Here’s a new hack that you will either find very adorable, or very irritating. If you don’t mind it when someone pulls out pictures of their kids to show you, then it will be the former. If you do mind, you might be out of luck.
That’s because today YesVideo is releasing the 2013 version of the classic pull-out-baby-pictures-of-my-kids-from-my-wallet gesture. Now, proud parents will be able to show you their old (like VHS and Betamax old) home videos on their iPhones.
YesVideo specializes in outdated media digitalization. So, all those wedding videos, soccer games, and births that you shot on a camcorder before the smartphone spoiled us rotten can live on in digital form. How it works is, a customer walks into the photo section of a place like Costco, Walmart or CVS, and can pay about $20 to turn a VHS tape into a digital file. YesVideo puts it in the cloud, and its viewable on the company’s website. But today the company unveiled a native iPhone app, so it’s available there too.
Other old-school media that’s available for conversion is 8mm film, mini DVs, mini DVDs, and (not as old but getting more outdated by the minute) regular DVDs. But a vast majority of the conversions are from VHS tapes, says Michael Chang, the company’s chief executive. The company also has a direct purchasing route though its website, but its bread and butter is in retail partnerships, says Chang.
It’s an interesting service the company provides – this transitional, bridging technology. Those services tend to do well if executed properly because there is no doubting the utility. YesVideo did $50 million in revenue last year. Not bad for a straightforward A/V service. Some have even called Square a transitional technology (though I’m sure Dorsey and Co. would disagree), saying it’s a placeholder for when we really figure out mobile payments.
So YesVideo will help us in our personal digital archiving until we’re all caught up. Of course, once we are indeed all caught up and digitized, the company will have to finds something else to do. But Chang isn’t worried. He claims there are 1.5 billion units of old media like VHS and film in the U.S alone (though it’s unclear what the breakdown is between home and commercial video. And YesVideo doesn’t digitize commercial content).
Still, it’s interesting positioning for a company: While most businesses hope for early adopters, YesVideo hopes there will be some stragglers. And it sets up camp right in front of them. YesVideo has raised about $26 million in funding since it launched in 1999. Back then, investors included Kodak Venture and Polaroid, but now none of the original investors are present, because of equity buyouts from many of its current executives. YesVideo is so fond of the obsolete that even its original investors are gone.
The iOS app is a good idea. It’s a natural use of the product, and not just the obligatory mobile release that some companies put out just to keep up appearances. This one has some organic use cases. The proud parent scenario seems most believable. There may be a finite window here though: parents are probably less likely to show off videos of their kids who are grown, and videos of younger kids were likely already shot digitally anyway. Chang says he last used it showing off videos of his then-baby boy, now 7-years-old.
But others that Chang describes are: a bride running around planning her wedding, and using her mom’s wedding video as a reference point. Or a dad reliving his glory days, when he led his high school football team to State in ’78. You’re more likely to pop these videos out mid-conversation in a social setting, than sitting at your computer at home.
Whether or not customers will actually download it remains to be seen. Of course, clearly missing is a native tablet app, since video viewing is mushrooming on those devices. But for show off parents, I suppose it doesn’t matter. They will find a way to show you their baby’s first steps, no matter what, device type be damned.
[Image courtesy: It’s So Sunny!]