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“Innovative photo print product apps have a tremendous opportunity to cater to new use cases and attract new print product buyers.” Hans Hartman, president of Suite 48 Analytics and chair of visual 1st.


Mobile Photo Connect (now Visual 1st) is the world’s premier conference for the mobile imaging ecosystem.  Executives and entrepreneurs, at photo app developers, mobile device vendors, cloud storage providers, software companies, print product providers, camera manufacturers, and many others attend this annual event. As a global manufacturer of personalized print services with a strong customer base in the mobile space, RPI is a long-time sponsor of this event, held annually in the Bay Area.

There is so much going on in the converging world of mobile, imaging, and print and RPI had the opportunity to interview Hans Hartman, president of Suite 48 Analytics and chair of Mobile Photo Connect:


First of all, what where the highlights of the fifth Mobile Photo Connect conference?

That’s really hard for me to say– it’s a bit like “which of your children do you like best?” question (I like them all!).  I liked all the sessions and presentations, but I am in particular pleased with the 4 fireside chat sessions we had this year.  The format is a bit different from our traditional panel discussions: fast-paced (only 20 minutes), just one speaker, two moderators, allowing us to dive deeper into a narrower set of topics.  This year we had Anna Dickson from Google, Itai Tsiddon from Lightricks (makers of the bestselling Facetune and Enlight apps), Jim Mohan from Adobe, and our own Alexis Gerard, who shared his long-term perspectives on where the imaging industry is coming from and where it is heading.


During the event, you announced the re-branding of MPC and its new name Visual 1st, what is the background of this change?

We felt it was time.  Since visuals are such a driver of so many social media, communication, and creative expression trends, the choice of Visual 1st as the new conference name was a natural one.  But most of all, in the last few years we felt more and more that the terms ‘mobile’ and ’photo’ are no longer useful descriptors, due either to having become ubiquitous – as is the case for ‘mobile’ – or to being too narrow to reflect the evolution of the conference’s content over the years.  Mobile imaging used to equal Smartphones, but now we have action cams, drones, 360 cameras, AI-based cameras like Google Clips or Amazon Echo Looks – all are mobile to a significant degree.  So ‘mobile’ is the new norm.  It’s reminiscent of when we used the term ‘digital photography’ during the transition from film to digital, and before abandoning it when it became clear that ‘digital’ was the default and film the exception.

And of course, the worlds of photography and videography are increasingly overlapping, with the same devices taking visuals in either – or sometimes simultaneously – both formats. Video-frames are being extracted as photos, photos can now be short video clips, and workflows, use cases and tools are increasingly the same for both photos and videos.



Can you tell us more about the award winners at MPC? How do they differentiate from the other participants?

We have an independent jury of members from the media and investment communities which presented 4 awards:

  • Best of Show Award: Photomyne, by Photomyne
  • Best Business Potential Award: PastBook, by PastBook
  • Best Technology Award: V360, by Sharalike
  • Special Recognition Award: Streetography, by Streetography

In general, these app developers have either a technology or business approach that jumps out in the minds of our jury – they are innovative apps with a fresh or unique approach.  For instance, the Best of Show Photomyne app offers an efficient way to scan, auto-crop and restore colors of legacy printed photos, as well as to safely back these photos up in the cloud. The company aims to build the world’s largest archive of pre-digital images.

Our Awards Judge Geraldine Le Meur articulated her choice as follows, “Although Photomyne is still at a very early stage, they’re on track to solve an important problem: how to protect our pre-digital era visual memories and pass them on to the next generation. I especially like their vision of wanting to become the ‘Instagram of the Past’ as well as to index photos with AI to recreate memory connections.”


Is there a chance that Visual 1st will have an edition in other parts of the world (Europe, Asia,..)?

That might make sense at some point. This year, we had attendees from China, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Sweden, Turkey, UK, Russia, and Spain. I typically speak at and put together a session with photo app startups at the Business Forum Imaging conference in Cologne as well as at Photokina, and we might very well expand upon these types of activities in the future.


At RPI, we see that Mobile print is a strong growing category, what do you think the future will look like for print?

Innovative photo print product apps have a tremendous opportunity to cater to new use cases and attract new print product buyers.  That’s why, for instance, Amsterdam-based PastBook won our Best Potential Award. They offer a one-click solution to create printed photobooks from large photo selections out of Facebook, Instagram or other sources, and they have seen tremendous growth.  Or we also had Picanova show their new service called Monetize.ly, which enables anyone who wants to sell photo products on social media to easily set up their own merchandising shop.


More information:


Next year’s edition will take place on October 22-23, 2018


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