More Education is Key to Smartphone Photo Printing

David Haueter
Dec 22, 2015

Smartphones are wonderful devices and it’s hard to imagine life without them now. I think it’s safe to say that many consumers don’t use anywhere near the full capabilities of their smartphones, and this is especially true when it comes to photo printing. It’s a simple fact that most consumers are now using their smartphones as their primary camera. In the recently published InfoTrends 2015 U.S. Photo Printing Study, 63% of survey respondents said they use a smartphone most often as their primary camera, compared to 20% who use a digital point & shoot camera most often.

Smartphones have great potential to boost the photo printing market, as the smartphone can essentially act as a photo kiosk. The problem is that even though most of the leading retailers and online photo service providers have apps available for photo printing and output, many consumers don’t really know how to go about ordering prints from their smartphone, or even making quality photo prints on their own home printer from the device. When respondents to the U.S. Photo Printing Study who have not printed smartphone photos were asked why not, the leading response (at over 34%) was, “I don’t know how.” Over 15% said it was “too difficult” and over 12% said their phone “didn’t support printing.”

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Although the percentage that said they didn’t know how to print from their mobile phones was highest among 55- to 64-year old respondents, 45% of 18- to 24-year olds and 29% of 25- to 34-year olds also said that they didn’t know how. The lack of knowledge from these younger age groups is especially worrisome for the print market, as these are the segments that take the most photos and tend to have young children in the household, both of which are primary drivers for photo output and printing. Of course, getting consumers better educated on how to print from smartphones doesn’t guarantee that they’ll print more photos, but the lack of education on how to do it is clearly having a negative effect on the print market.

There’s no easy way to get consumers to try printing from smartphones if they don’t know how to do it. It’s so easy to share and view photos on the device itself that printing them is often not a priority. Retail vendors may have the greatest opportunity to educate their consumers on printing from smartphones, since they’re able to have face-to-face contact with customers and can launch initiatives to educate their customers in the store. Home printer vendors may want to consider putting simple and easily understood instructions on printing from mobile devices in an obvious place within their printer packaging. Online photo services may be able to boost mobile printing by offering incentives on using their photo apps, or even by offering step-by-step videos on how to use their apps.

With the impact that smartphones are having on the photo printing and output market, it’s surprising that there haven’t been more creative initiatives from within the industry on teaching consumers how to print from mobile devices. There should be a sense of urgency in doing so, as the longer a consumer goes without printing from their mobile devices, the less likely it is that they’ll ever do it.

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