Views from Phanfare CEO and Co-founder Andrew Erlichson

Link Phanfare survey results

One of my goals for Phanfare is to be as transparent as possible with our customers. In that spirit, here are the results of our recent customer survey. We surveyed our paying customers and our free users. I am going to focus on the survey results of the paying customers in this post because they are significantly more engaged in Phanfare.

By and large, our customers are happy, but a significant portion of those who are not happy desire many of the features that we removed from the product in January 2008. We plan to address the needs expressed by our customers in the coming months.


How likely are you to recommend Phanfare to a friend or colleague?

This is the net promoter question and we have been asking it for nearly 5 years now. So we have some important longitudinal data. Our net promoter score right now is 52%. That is composed of 63% promoters, 26% neutral and 11% detractors. Going back to May 2007, our net promoter score was 71%, which is phenomenal. I want it to be as high as it once was. We are working on that. Read on.


Do you use a smartphone as your primary cell phone?

51% of our customers use a smartphone. iPhone is number 1 at 19%. Blackberry is number 2 at 18%. 7% use Windows Mobile devices and 1% use Android devices. Nokia running Symbian scored 1%.

I was happy to see that the iPhone was number 1 since we have invested a significant amount of time in creating a management and viewing experience for iPhone users with Phanfare Photon.

The Blackberry is equally important to our customers. Our support for Blackberry is basic today. You can view your albums on a Blackberry but there is no management client. If RIM releases a device with storage (flash-based) included in the default configuration we might do client.

Which tools do you regularly use to manage your photos and videos on Phanfare. Check all that apply.
You could choose more than one. 15% of our customers use the Mac client. 49% use the PC client, and 57% use the web client. This supports putting more effort into updating the downloadable clients but also reflects that much of our paid usership predates the release of Phanfare 2.0, after which, the web client was emphasized over the downloadable clients. When we have analyzed what our recent customers are using, it is usually the web client only.

Phanfare Photon for the iPhone is used by 13% of our customers. The Picasa plugin has a 7% representation. Lightroom is 5%. Aperture only 2%. iPhoto plugin 7%.

But filtering on customers who also use the Mac client, 23% use the iPhoto plugin and 9% use the Aperture plugin, 8% use the Lightroom Plugin. This indicates that Aperture is slightly more popular than Lightroom on the Mac and Mac users are more likely to use a professional quality post processing tool.

Overall, no plugin scored above 10% indicating that adding more plugins should not be a high priority.

How important are each of the following potential enhancements to Phanfare Photon for the iPhone.
We asked this only of people who used Phanfare Photon for the iPhone. 79% of customers want “better stability and fewer crashes” from the app. This dwarfed everything else.

Addressing stability is hard for us because some of the instability comes from the iPhone itself, but we are working on improving the stability and in a pending release we have addressed some of these issues.

Other popular enhancements were “searching your collection” and “faster shot to shot time.” I am happy to report that search is in the pending Phanfare Photon release and we have done what we can to improve shot to shot time within the constraints of the Apple SDK.

When we asked Phanfare Photon customers to rate the app on a scale of 1-5, they gave it an average of 4.1 stars. Although this post does not address the free users, one stat I will share is that free users gave it 2.7 stars, indicating that you need to have a large collection and see the way Photon fits into the larger set of tools to really understand the merits of Photon.

Phanfare Photon is a better media browser than it is a digital camera, especially for our customers who tend to have expensive DSLR cameras in their bag as well.

Thinking about the way your photos and videos are displayed on the web, how important is each of the following potential features.
We asked what new features our customers want in the web display of photos and videos. Items that were important included:

  • Site passwords
  • Album passwords
  • Access control lists (ACLs)
  • more fonts & colors
  • More background themes
  • More control over web layout
  • Personalized URLs (you.phanfare.com)

Items that were somewhat important were:

  • Ability to embed a phanfare slideshow in a blog
  • CNAME support
  • Anonymous comments on albums

Items that were not important or confusing (we gave a choice if Not Sure) were:

  • Removal of the Phanfare navigation ribbon
  • support for directly editing the page CSS
  • displaying geotagging information on a map (which we already do!)

We plan to address many of the important needs, although in some cases our solutions might not be the exact solution proposed in the survey.

We are always thinking of new ways to integrate Phanfare with other services and products. How important are each of the following to you?
Our customers hardly care about any of the services & devices we proposed. Of the following services, not one scored more than 10% saying it was extremely important: Boxee, Apple TV, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, Roku, WordPress, Blogger.

Of all these services/devices the one that generated the greatest interest overall was YouTube. The service that generated the least interest was MySpace, which did not shock me.

We have asked before where our customers want to display their photos and videos and “the living room TV” scores above 50%, but whenever we propose specific solutions, it generates a yawn. What that says to me is that customers are interested in the idea of displaying their content on the living room TV but the integration has not been invented yet that is convenient enough. I suspect that when TVs can display the content directly without the help of a box, consumer interest will be higher.

Phanfare already offers integration with facebook and flickr, and the facebook integration is quite popular, so it might just be the case that we already offer the most important service integrations.

Thinking of Phanfare’s management and storage features, how important are each of the following potential improvements to you?
Items of great interest were:

  • storage of RAW files
  • support for video over 10 minutes
  • keyword tagging
  • trimming of video within Phanfare
  • historical graphs of viewer activity to albums

Nearly everything we proposed scored pretty well though. Second tier interest in:

  • face tagging
  • downloadable progam that watches your hard disk to put up new content.

Items with limited interest were:

  • putting phanfare caption data in the EXIF header for export (16% shrugged “not sure” on this one – meaning a lot of people don’t know what the questions means)
  • better support for adding geotagging information to photos that lack it. (also generated 15% “Not Sure”)

This supports my belief that spending your days clicking on photos and marking where they were taken is a task best left undone.

Phanfare sells books, cards, prints and data DVDs today. What other personalized photo and video products are you interested in?
Strong interest in calendars and DVDs that play in consumer DVD players (we offer data DVDs and a data DVD subscription service today). Reasonable interest in mugs and canvas prints. Fairly low interest in Keepsake boxes and blankets.

Our fulfillment partners already make all these products. Adding these products to the mix comes down to justifying the engineering time to build the configurators given that the revenue will be modest and could slow down our improvement of the core services. I was surprised to see calendars score so high. I have used an electronic calendar for over 10 yrs.

Demographics
58% male, average age looks to be 43, 68% use a digital SLR regularly.

We have surveyed for a greater set of demographic data in the past and we found that our customers tend to have above average income. I believe that, at least until the cost of online storage comes down, hosting your photos and videos with a service that stores them redundantly and in multiple states will be out of reach of most consumers.

  • http://albums.phanfare.com/jaredhaller Jared Paul Haller

    Thank you for sharing this information. I found it interesting. I've invested a lot of time in my Phanfare albums, so I like to keep apprised of how the company is doing. Thanks again!

  • brettweaver

    Thanks for the good summary. Good info. My family loves it when they get an email letting them know new pics and videos are available. I wanted to respond to one specific comment:

    “I was surprised to see calendars score so high. I have used an electronic calendar for over 10 yrs. “

    I've been making photo calendars for a couple of family members for about 10 years. It has little to do with keeping up with appointments. They just love turning over the calendar at the first of the month and seeing a new photo. I think it's sort of a convenient way for them to have new pictures on their wall every once in a while.

  • Raphael Freeman

    My only comment is with the client. You make out that most new people are only interested in the web client. My contention is that is because they don’t know about the PC client. Try an experiment. Promote your PC (and Mac) client on your web as much as you do the photon and I will be very interested in the results. I bet you find that most people will prefer the client over the very slow web option.

  • Karina

    Some very interesting results Andrew, seems like the majority are saying similar things.
    I would have to agree with Raphaels comment re the PC vs web with newbies. When I was at a friends house setting their account up for them I really had to have a good search before I remembered where they could download the PC client.
    I have only tried uploading via the webclient once and it was an experience I dont want to repeat ! The PC client has far too many useful features immediately at hand.

  • fdumas

    I completely agree with Raphael and Karina. I am a “recent” premium user (I have never used Phanfare 1.0) and the PC client is one of the main features that steered me in the direction of Phanfare (that and the impeccably uncluttered flash slideshows with embedded videos). Let’s say it: if it’s a rich web interface that people want, Flick will do a better job. I agree that the PC client should be more promoted and even have more “off line” capabilities (i.e. play slideshows from the local hard drive… useful when the connection is slow). Keep up the good work!

  • http://blog.phanfare.com erlichson

    Thanks for the feedback. We are giving more love to the PC and Mac clients these days and will let all of you guide how much attention they get going forward.

  • Stephen S

    I second that. I almost always have to tell people about the desktop client…nobody ever seems to know about it

  • Tim Becker

    I have also had to explain the desktop client to other users so I think new users may be missing it.

    My workflow is Aperture or iPhoto plugin to Phanfare. Go to desktop client to rearrange or do any tweaking that needs to be done.

    Web client: I'm glad it's there, but for emergency use only.

    Regards,
    Tim

  • OneMammoth

    I only use the web client if I am away from my computer at home. Why would anyone use the web client instead of the desktop client, given the choice?!

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  • Zeki

    The ONLY reason I use phanfare is the PC client. There are lots of online storage services out there but none offer the PC client and I hate to upload one picture at a time. Drag and drop is so much easier

  • Zeki

    I am glad so many people like the desktop client. I hope they add the same features as the web client such as facebook integration to the client as well.

  • WPWoodJr

    I don't understand your response about the BlackBerry client. Sorry, but it sounds like you're dodging the question. I have 16gb on my Blackberry using the microSD card slot. Newer BlackBerrys like the Verizon Tour have 256mb of on-board memory. A BlackBerry client would be awesome and make almost 1/2 your smartphone customers very happy!

  • Naren

    I don't agree with assessment in the following:

    “We have asked before where our customers want to display their photos and videos and “the living room TV” scores above 50%, but whenever we propose specific solutions, it generates a yawn. What that says to me is that customers are interested in the idea of displaying their content on the living room TV but the integration has not been invented yet that is convenient enough.”

    I believe the integration and solutions are present and evolving. What is not present is adoption rates for any one of these solutions. Which explains why 50% people are interested, but 'yawn' at specific solutions. This will change with broadband adoption. I believe we are that point of change with broadband adoption exponentially increasing 2006 to 2009. With broadband adoption, you will see increase adoption of the solutions (Apple TV, Vudu, Boxee, Roku etc) and leading to greater competition, evolution (and extinction for some solutions).

    While I am a single data point, I am looking at switching to a pay service and having a service that can provide a pipeline to my living room over a setbox is a plus. In my case, I will switch to the best photo & video option available on the Roku (Flikr & MotionBox).

    I believe right now is a great chance for Phanfare to be at the forefront of the explosion of media delivered to the living room, via broadband.

  • http://www.wheelmax.com/ Rims

    There are lots of online storage services out there but none offer the PC client and I hate to upload one picture at a time.

  • Alistair Doran

    What about the 7% of Windows Mobile user when are your fee paying customers gooing to get an app the same as iPhone?

  • http://blog.phanfare.com erlichson

    the reality is that we can't afford to write an app for a small part of the
    customer base. we would need to charge much more for it then the customers
    would pay. it's cheaper to just go and buy a touch ;-)

  • http://blog.phanfare.com erlichson

    the reality is that we can't afford to write an app for a small part of the
    customer base. we would need to charge much more for it then the customers
    would pay. it's cheaper to just go and buy a touch ;-)

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