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Apple bets that you'll want to send real cards right from your iPhone
We've come a long way from camping in the greeting card aisle for hours as we pull options out of each scattered pocket of mismatched cards and envelopes. I remember the excitment I had when software on my PC let me build a rudimentary card and print it on my trusty HP and I would fold along the lines and search for an envelope for the newly printed greeting to fit into.
Now, in the age of digital services, droves of online sites advertise that anyone can send a number of cards for free, or for a small fee -- but Apple is betting you'll pay to send your friends and family something special.
Information on the new Apple Cards application went live on Friday morning, essentially letting the world - or at least those who visit the Apple site - know that the service was "coming soon."
The Cards app was initially announced by Apple CEO Tim Cook in the October 4 conference detailing a process similar to the iPhoto Album system that has been around for several years -- where the content in created and personalized online and can be printed and mailed to anyone you like by the company.
But among the new details highighted today include the GPS integration that can be activated for the cards so that, if you choose a travel template, the geo-locator on the photo taken will automatically pop up on the card (but can still be edited after the fact if the user wishes.)
Also the six of the 21 preselected cards are now showcased on the site, including the sure to be popular in the coming months: Holiday template.
A bevy of greeting card competitors
The online space is filled with countless electronic card sites that cut all the postage out of the transaction by making the correspondence completely digital such as Someecards, Punchbowl's digital greeting cards and Evite, most of which base their business model on advertising revenue and occasional fees for premium cards.
Last year, another online greeting company, Cocodot, raised $2 million to help build out its more refined focus on the creation of invitations.
Apple's Cards has taken the model more similar to Paperless Post and Postagram where a modest fee is charged per card. Cards released its pricing would be a flat $2.99 for any card sent within the U.S. and $4.99 for any card sent outside the country.
Paperless Post has a more individualized and stratified pricing system like a conventional stationary store and, for most options, postage is an additional charge.
For cards that stay within the states, Apple offers an additional free service that uses the U.S.P.S Intelligent Mail barcode and sends a notification to your iPhone or iPod touch the day it is scheduled to arrive.
The 13-year-old online company Evite alone claims it sends 25,000 invitations each hour.
It is unclear when the Card application will be available for download from the iTunes store but, by looking at the recent upgrades to the iPhoto software and offering, its no doubt that it will complement the more detailed process of creating iPhoto physical products.
iPhoto currently offers the ability to create, order and ship any of the 27 templates of letterpress cards for $2.99 a piece -- the Card preview online show a slighter 21.
Postagram spoke about the new Apple offering in its blog on the announcement day and expressed that they were not concerned by the challenge.
"This announcement from Apple only serves to add further focus to our mission," the blog read. It went on to encourage its users to send in suggestions on bettering the application. "We want to hear from you our users. How can we make Postagram better? What can we offer in future products and future Sincerely services that will enable you to wow your friends and family with thoughtfulness?"
The Card preview online shows six of the advertised 21 preselected templates (all 4x6) that users will be able to choose from.
When a user creates and orders a card on the application, the charge will be factored into their iTunes account just like a music purchase.
The site made no mention of whether this service will be available on the iPad.
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