Fotopedia to launch paid app: National Parks

Faith Merino · December 10, 2010 · Short URL:

The company recently became one of 15 free apps to be inducted into App Hall of Fame

I met up with former Microsoft executive Christophe Daligault at LeWeb’10 to talk about his new role as VP of global business for Fotopedia, the photo-sharing app that was recently inducted into Apple’s App Hall of Fame (only 50 apps have reached this status).

Back in August, Fotopedia partnered with UNESCO to create the Heritage app, a Web-based community 35,000-strong and featuring 25,000 photos of UNESCO World Heritage sites around the world.  The terms of the partnership were not financial in any way, but promotional.  Since launching four months ago, the app has seen more than one million downloads and has become one of only 15 free apps to be inducted into the App Hall of Fame. 

This week, the company will be launching its first paid app, known as National Parks.  Unlike the Heritage app, which consists entirely of photos contributed by users, the National Parks app will feature more than 3,000 photos from professional photographer Quang-Tuan Luong, who snapped the photos over the course of ten years as he visited each of 50 U.S. national parks (while carrying 50 pounds of camera equipment on his back).

Both apps allow users to view high-quality photos as a slideshow or by flicking through the app.  The Heritage app, which launches its upgraded 3.0 version this week, also allows users to choose select photos from specific regions and countries, read UNESCO and Wikipedia articles on specific sites, and learn more about individual photographers and contributors.

The app, which, like the Heritage app, can be downloaded on the iPad or the iPhone, will cost $4.99 and will give the company its first shot at making money.  According to Daligault, the company has no plans to extend the app to non-iOS devices.  CEO Jean-Marie Hullot is, himself, the former CTO of Apple and, according to Daligault, the Fotopedia apps are infused with a lot of “Apple DNA.”

“We plan to stay with Apple.  Collectively, the company has 50 years of experience and does a lot to promote its apps.”  The induction into the hall of fame is one such example of the kind of promotion that can extend an app’s shelf-life.  Most apps, said Daligault, experience a bell-curve phenomenon, but the Heritage app’s inclusion in the Hall of Fame promises to sustain that phenomenon.

I asked him if Fotopedia has any plans to create a stand-alone website for a PC browser, but Daligault maintained that the beauty of the iPad format allows Fotopedia to create a photo-viewing experience that is free of banners or links.  “It’s the anti-Web,” said Daligault. “Most people, we’ve found, engage with the Heritage app right before bed, when they want to relax.”

The company is awaiting Apple’s official approval before launching the new National Parks app.  Thus far, the company has raised a total of $3.4 million from Ignition Partners, Banexi Ventures, Ron Conway, and more, and has plans to do additional fundraising in January.  

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