Accommodating chaotic collections of photos in a photo book quickly and coherently – that can give any photo book provider an edge. Albelli has bought this advantage by acquiring ReSnap.
Albelli was itself purchased as recently as the end of July 2017 by Gilde Buy Out Partners from Cimpress’ brand pool. The next acquisition was completed at the beginning of September. But this time Albelli is the buyer and it is enlarging its portfolio by adding technology from ReSnap, with the aid of which photo books can be compiled in a matter of minutes from huge quantities of photos, with the aid of intelligent software.
The start-up ReSnap, which was set up in 2013, specializes in photo books and only has a very narrow product portfolio. The focus of the Nijmegen (NL)-based company is on its own specially developed software, which gives Albelli a potentially valuable advantage in the photo print segment, which has mobile application implications in particular. The ReSnap technology is intended to complement existing applications to enable the deluge of photos on static and mobile end devices to be transformed into quality photo books in a way that makes sense. ReSnap for its part acquired Bundle, the developer of the eponymous app for organizing photos on smartphones, as recently as May this year. Given that Bundle is essentially pursuing the same goal with the app as ReSnap is doing with its static or rather online-editor version, the acquisition has enabled ReSnap to enhance its app and provide the same range of functions for mobile end devices too. Albelli is now benefitting from this intelligent software and this app capability all from a single source. Although no official purchase price has been announced, a single-digit million figure is not beyond the realms of possibility, given ReSnap’s annual sales of around one million Euros. According to information disclosed by both companies, ReSnap will continue to operate as a brand under its own name, although Albelli will in future buy in the printing of photo books, which ReSnap had outsourced.
And how does this intelligent ReSnap software work within the online editor? Well, to start off with, you need to select the skeleton photo book from a choice of six different formats and then the number of pages, detailing the minimum and maximum quantity of photos in each case. Then you have the option of uploading photos from your own computer or directly from Instagram or Facebook; as a next step the software selects usable photos from the pool of chosen photos, whereby duplicate and blurred photos are automatically filtered out. The remaining photos are then placed in an automatically generated layout in the chosen book format. The user can decide whether they want to personalize their photo book even more with the aid of text and layout modifications, while the automatically inserted photos can also be changed. Where people are depicted in photos, the system recognizes the suitability of the photos based on criteria including the number of faces as well as the facial expressions of those depicted. The overall process delivers a photo book that limits the photos, which the user has specified by choosing the folder, to the pre-selected quantity in less than a minute. If, for example, I choose a 40-page book, between 40 and 100 photos can be utilized. If more than the specified quantity of photos is uploaded, the system makes a selection by processing information with the aid of artificial intelligence. If a buyer uses the software on repeated occasions, the system automatically learns what kind of photos the customer prefers, based on image analyses, and incorporates them in the photo book in an even more targeted way. What is also particularly practical is that you can also start your photo book project in the app and complete it in the online editor – providing you are always logged in.
“Although ReSnap itself is no small fish, the reach of Albelli and the other affiliated European brands will enable the intelligent software’s potential to be exploited on a quite different scale than hitherto, especially for the production of photo books on mobile end devices.” – Bernd Zipper
As mentioned earlier, ReSnap’s core is the software module. In testing the program took just 30 seconds to place 28 photos. This puts the application in the 60-second range that ReSnap has stated as the maximum, even for more extensive photo books. It’s difficult to make any meaningful statements about print quality, because that is very much dependent on what the buyer uploads. As far as pricing and delivery lead times are concerned, ReSnap is a mid-table provider. The basic price for an A5 landscape format hardcover book with 20 pages of content is 14.95 Euros, i.e. not including shipping costs and any special requests. Mind you, buyers ordering from Albelli get less for the same price – no photo cover and no title on the cover. Photo books are delivered within 3 to 4 days in the Netherlands and worldwide within 7 to 10 working days.
My take: even if the technology for the automatic sorting of photos is not brand new, it’s set to be a valuable asset for Albelli and its affiliated brands. At any rate Gilde’s new acquisition simplifies the production of photo books for customers, who want to see the sorting and selection of their photos handled (almost entirely) automatically and above all quickly, even from a smartphone, thus creating additional sales potential. The acquisition also clearly demonstrates that Gilde Buy Out Partners, which only acquired Albelli from Cimpress back in August, is focusing in the photo print segment not just on existing services, but is definitely heading in the direction of expansion and enhancement, in order to consolidate the photo print provider’s market positioning in Europe even further.