We all know the saying: nothing good in life comes for free. But Spark, a Singapore-based startup, wants to change that. Following the latest photo-printing revolution, they are offering to print 10 of your photos every month at an amazing price — nothing.
While free photos sound amazing, the innate Singaporeans in us can’t help but ask the obvious question: what’s the catch?
The concept behind Spark is simple. They will allow you to print 10 photos a month through their web portal and apps — no more, no less. At the back of every photo, Spark will print an advertisement, promoting a local business or store. This means that advertisers are effectively paying for your photos.
There is a popular saying that “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product”, and in this case, it is very true. Most of us are already recipients of online advertisements, and now, they will be invading our photographs as well. If we just think about the flyer industry, we’d know how effective those flimsy pieces of paper are — especially when most of us throw them away immediately. With Spark’s concept of photo-printing, they’re effectively turning our photos into the flyers of the future.
The benefit of this service, though, seems to outweigh its cost — at least to us consumers. After all, you are getting photos printed for free. Since the service exists solely online, you don’t have to go down to a printing store to get your photos printed, and then collect them days later. Spark will simply mail them to you. And if you’re going to put the photos up on your wall or in an album, will it really matter that there are advertisements printed on the back?
I tested out the service by downloading the app.
The app was fully functional and allowed you to get photos from Facebook, Dropbox, and your phone, but sadly, Instagram isn’t an option just yet. The design of the app is also a little shoddy, but it does its job well enough, even offering status updates of your pictures.
What surprised me was that I found myself enjoying the advertisements. Not only did they look surprisingly tasteful; some even came with promotion codes or discounts, effectively making your photos usable vouchers. I found myself actively looking to see if there were any promotion codes I would use, which is much more than I expected from the hindrance of advertising. For promotion-hunters, the deals are also tucked into the Spark app, and you can access them anytime you want.
Speaking to Max Lee, co-founder of Spark, he mentioned that the advertising was also targeted at a customer’s age and gender, to make sure that the services promoted were relevant to the customer.
However, I had a few qualms. It is pretty annoying that you only get to print 10, and can’t print any less, but from a business standpoint it is understandable — you would want your customers and advertisers to make the most of the situation, yet set limitations to prevent the exploitation of the service. Also, a countdown to the day you get to print free photos again pops up when you attempt to use the app — which is useful — but it would be nice to get a push notification when the day comes.
The photo quality isn’t the best, but it does pretty much match the quality of most photo printing stores in Singapore. I was hoping for better quality printing though, as some of my photos came out pretty pixelated, but that may be the issue of taking photos straight from Facebook.
Spark’s catchphrase seems to be “Everybody deserves free photos because you can’t put a price on memories”, and it is as attractive as anyone could be giving out free stuff. So unless you have some anti-advertising values to uphold, it’s a pretty good deal to try out.
Free stuff, why not?