More than one thousand online photo-printing services have entered the marketplace in the history of the Web. Only a few remain. The most successful survivor is Shutterfly, founded in 1999. The 16 billion pictures currently sitting on Shutterfly’s servers aren’t your garden-variety snapshots of sandwiches and shoes. The pictures on Shutterfly are treasured images, and destined to decorate photobooks, prints, calendars, wall decals, mugs, greeting cards, and other items.
How has the company thrived? That’s what Bloomberg Businessweek tried to figure out this week. Most of their orders are during the holiday season, and they get through the off-season by using their printing equipment for corporate jobs.
That’s not to say that they aren’t aware of what individuals are looking for in a photo-printing service. Their core customers, comprising 80% of consumer business, are women between ages 25 and 50––what CEO Jeffrey Housenbold calls the “chief memory officers” of their families. They might not necessarily be taking the all of photos, but these clan archivists are the ones arranging them into pretty albums and giving everyone photobooks for Christmas.
Shutterfly’s Improbably Long Survival (and Success) [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]