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Summary:

Apple’s new “Cards” app turns any iPhone or iPad photo into a greeting card — exactly the same business as San Francisco startup Sincerely, which makes the Postagram app. Despite the big competition, Sincerely CEO Matt Brezina says his company is ready to battle.

Apple Event 10/4 30 Cards 2
Apple Event 10/4 30 Cards 2

Apple unveils the 'Cards' app during its October 4 keynote

Apple today announced a new mobile app called “Cards” that will allow users to turn any photo taken with an iPhone or iPad into a greeting card. After the card is designed, Apple will print and mail it anywhere in the world for $2.99.

Gee, that rings a bell.

San Francisco-based startup Sincerely launched earlier this year with a mobile app called Postagram that does a remarkably similar thing. The Postagram app — which is now available on both iOS and Android devices — lets users add a short message to any photo from Facebook, Instagram or their mobile device. Postagram then prints the cards and sends them anywhere in the world for 99 cents.

I gave Sincerely CEO Matt Brezina a call this morning to find out how he was feeling about his company’s new heavyweight competitor. According to him, the team at Sincerely knew this day would come — and have been preparing for it since the company’s inception. “I can’t say I was surprised that they did it. Apple’s been offering photo book services with the iPhoto desktop application for years now,” he said. “When we started this company, we talked about how Apple would eventually take what they did on iPhoto and bring it to the iPhone.”

Size matters

A Postagram postcard

So now that Apple has entered the space, how exactly does Sincerely plan to maintain its edge?  For starters, the startup can try to use its small size as an asset. “Our core focus is to let our users send simple thoughtful gifts from the mobile phone. That’s all we think about day and night,” Brezina said. “If our users want something special for, say, the holiday season, we can turn that around in weeks. For a company like Apple it would take months or even a year.”

He was also quick to point out that Sincerely’s offerings stretch a bit beyond postcard apps for the iPhone. In June the company debuted its PopBooth app that essentially turns iPads into photo booths, and in August it released an API to let developers build their own photo printing apps that run on Sincerely infrastructure. In addition, the Postagram app is also available on Android — something Brezina is happy his team prioritized early on. “Thank God we support multiple operating systems,” he said.

Diversify early, diversify often

At Sincerely’s launch back in April, Postagram worked only alongside of the Instagram app. I wrote at the time: “As clever as Postagram is (and I think it’s really clever), basing one’s business on a third-party’s software API is never a smart bet for the long term.” Soon after its launch, Sincerely was smart to quickly expand its technology to work with more platforms — integrating with Facebook photos, launching an Android app, and so on. Those early choices could turn out to be the company’s saving grace.

If today’s news proves anything, it’s that it can be dangerous to base a business on another company’s software or its hardware. It is a great time to be an entrepreneur, but with profits at companies such as Apple higher than ever, it’s also a great time to be a big powerful corporation. To avoid being trampled by industry giants, smart startups should take full advantage of their agility by hedging bets across different APIs, operating systems and devices much as possible.

  1. Awesome, Apple just validated the mobile cards market.

    So far everything works according to our plan.

    http://eu.techcrunch.com/2010/05/19/touchnote-inks-global-deal-with-sony-ericcson-for-postcard-app/

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  2. The whole point of sending a post card, is a personalized hand written note with a postage stamp from where you are. This does none of that. You might as well just send them a rez photo on the smartphone via email since it’s free and fast.

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  3. Why would it take Apple months or a year to respond to special occassions? More importantly, why do they think Apple wouldn’t just be prepared for special occassions? Personal designs aside ofcourse, if you want that, Apple probably won’t be your best choice. But that’s just because they don’t care about it.

    I always read about big comments being ‘too big to respond fast to change’, but for me that’s just a load of crap. The ‘card’ service of Apple is just a small company inside Apple, it’s not the entire company. And they can respond just as quickly as any small startup with more money behind them too.

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