Monday, May 2, 2011

kapturem: Photographers, get your game on.

 

It’s a difficult task to stand out in today’s social app world. It’s an extremely difficult task to stand out as a new app within the Android market. Last night an app was released that managed to do both of those with a simple but very well thought out idea. To sum it up in 3 words,

Gamified’ Social Photography.

kapturem splash screen

Say hello to “kapturem”

kapturem can be loosely described as a photography application. In more precise terms however it is an application for photographers to vie for the most influential and respected position within the kapturem network.

In kapturem users take photographs, upload them to the network where others can then comment on it, like it, dislike it and then if they wish to, follow your activity. Photos taken by users will be shown to you as a Twitter like public stream each time you start up the application. While this may seem like a fairly simple and “Been there done that” kind of idea it is anything but that.

Each action can earn you points where you get 2 points for adding a photo, 1 point for rating it, 1 point for following a user and so on.

Cue on Viral ingredients

This, is where the whole addictiveness and viral nature of the app begins to kick in. And this is also where I think the small team behind Kapturem might have stumbled on to something far bigger than they think it can be because as your points grow, so does your ranking and visibility within the community. As you go along you begin to move from your default associate ranking to a soldier climbing up the ladder past the Boss, the Capo and finally reaching the title of, ‘The Don’ which is described as “one of the rare individuals boasting this great honor and a legend to the kapturem community.”

kapturem challenges screenAnd right at the top of the addictive meter is the challenge section. Since this is the first day I don’t know with what frequency this will occur but from time to time challenges are posted up with a “pot of points” available for the winner. In today’s case there was the challenge of getting users to put up the “Best public misspelling” they’ve seen with the winner walking away with ten points. To participate in a challenge you simply tap the challenge of your choice and tap the camera icon whereupon your photo will be added to the challenge section automatically. Be warned though. There are no second chances as I discovered when trying to test how to add a picture to the challenges section.

So what about the App?

Which brings me down to the actual app experience itself. This application is packed with things to do. The community that’s already using it has gone viral on it commenting and rating everything that comes up on the photo stream. Although the app is packed with features it is actually quite simple to use for the most part. There are minor annoyances that are bundled with this that will definitely lead to a certain amount of frustration to a new user who doesn’t like tapping randomly and experimenting to get things working. For example, the challenges section does not have any advice on how to actually add a photo to a challenge. Given that the camera icon is visible in every screen of the application most users would not think that this is something contextual. Then there’s the follow mechanism which seemed a little out of place to me. You have to actually visit a user’s page, and then tap on a photo of theirs to see the menu saying “follow”. For a geek user like myself I was stuck for a few seconds wondering if that meant that I’d be following the user, or the activity on that particular photo.This also presented a problem where I could not follow a user who had not uploaded any photos yet either.

The rest of the application is a pleasure to use however with the already active community commenting and uploading enough photos to make the network feel quite active. Photos once taken can be rotated, deleted, edited (captions and descriptions). All the standard features you would expect. The website claims to have sharing to FB but I couldn’t find that feature so I have to assume it’s coming soon. Edit. The app connects to Facebook and indeed prompts you to connect Facebook upon your first login. I completely missed the fact that it posts your pics to Facebook each time you upload thus completing the social connection feature. (Aplogies to the App makers for that error).

Despite any minor grievances I believe that kapturem definitely has ventured out into an idea zone where they might very well find themselves targeted by “me too” ventures fairly soon. Which means they are already in quite a good state. They will need to iterate fast to ensure that the experience doesn’t become stale and that no one else can think of catching up.

Why so excited?

Why am I so pumped up about the concept? It’s got a viral touch to it which is going to keep inducing people to keep participating in activity around the network. While the concept they have used is nothing new in terms of ‘gamification’, the fact that they’ve applied it to a photo sharing network is definitely a first. Everywhere I looked within that experience was a chance to get more points and keep pushing ahead until I exhausted all opportunities. The best part is that this all cascades into getting people to do more. One of the smartest moves I noticed was that on the challenges screen they give you the option to add a new challenge for the rest of the community and then tell you that you need to get your ranking up to get there thus creating an instant urge to go do something more to get those points.

Weekly leaderboards ensure that new comers will not feel left out once they show up much later on. This ensures that although the old timers will be racing to grab the overall position of Don, each week they will still feel heat from the upstarts who start at the 0 point range with them.

Again this is nothing new in terms of base concepts but having applied it the way kapturem has, just makes me think “zing! Why didn’t I, or anyone else think of this yet”.

But will it work?

Two arguments come to mind questioning the possibility of the success of this application. First, due to the viral nature of this app isn't it likely that people will spam just to get points? Maybe in the beginning the stream may seem full of not so sensible or mostly meaningless items. But as the community begins to grow I predict that people will start ignoring the lower end items and move instead towards the higher quality photos which actually try and convey something useful. In fact I see a future for this (if guided properly) to be a way for photo journalists to convey quick images just like the way Twitter produces byte sized pieces of information regarding events happening around the world.

The second argument is, who is going to want to post pictures up on a network like this anyway? Well. Who thought people would want to keep posting up the answer to the question “What are you doing?” . At least this has incentive. Again though, like I mentioned above, much like Twitter I foresee this eventually pivoting to become a much richer almost interest based challenge network. A concept which I will detail in a later post. Also if you are terribly concerned about privacy issues then you would be happy to know that your profile is private upon first login. (at least it was for me). A quick trip to the settings and you can change it to suit your taste.

Just like Liveshare (and in a way, Color), kapturem has the potential to become a visual Twitter. The difference being that unlike Liveshare and Color, kapturem comes in at a completely different angle thus taking a big chunk off a territory that has been completely uncharted thus far.

 

My rating – 4/5 stars. A fantastic concept accompanied by an intuitive and at the same time, occasionally clunky interface. Highly addictive. Must try! Must keep using!

Go check out their website here

Download their app from the Android Market here (The developers told me that an iPhone app will be in the pipeline soon but they are for now focusing on making the experience as good as they can for now which probably means that iPhone users are going to have to wait to try this.)

Follow them on Twitter @Kapturem or their Facebook page

 

Enjoy the experience. Will meet you over there. I’m off to see how I can become the Don. (Follow me on Twitter for more updates on @area51research)

I’m Adnan on Kapturem. Look out for me

UPDATE: Screen shots can be found here