Happy New Year from Aviary!

New Year’s – a time when as individuals and companies we pause for a moment to consider why we’re here, what we do, and how we do it.

At Aviary we strive to inspire people to play with their visual world – by giving them the magic to re-imagine, reinvent, reshape, and share what they see.

Aviary believes that if we are more tuned in to the world we see around us – and if we express our individuality, perspective, and sense of humor through the images we create and share – then stronger bonds and connectivity will be built.

Obama building stronger bonds and connectivity.

Obama building stronger bonds and connectivity.

2013 – the year of the #selfie – was full of good times for Aviary. We helped millions of people across the globe play with their own visual worlds using Aviary’s photo editing technology. Those experiences happened in many places: in one of our own-brand, Top-10, mobile photo apps; or in one of thousands of partner apps utilizing Aviary’s SDKs. But wherever the magic happened, we’re delighted it happened with Aviary and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

We can’t wait to get started on 2014 – to bring to Aviary’s magic to even more people in even more ways. But we thought it would be fun first to reflect on 2013 and share some insights on what is now, undisputedly, a global photo phenomenon that we are all part of (including The President).

 

Capturing Reality – and Editing Reality – Are Booming:

It's estimated that 500 billion photos were taken in 2013, and this might balloon to some 880 billion in 2014. That’s more than 10 photos for every person on the planet.

More than 1% of this massive number of photos is edited with Aviary. A staggering 6 billion photos were edited in our mobile apps, or in partner apps using Aviary’s SDK, in the last year. In November 2013, 70 million people edited photos with Aviary. That’s up from just 25 million people in November 2012.

Our own-brand app – Photo Editor by Aviary – grew like wildfire this year. On Android alone we jumped from 1.6 million MAUs at the end of 2012 to over 10 million MAUs now. Photo Editor by Aviary was also recognized by both Apple's and Google's "Best of 2013" lists. 

At the same time, our partner network grew to almost 7,000 strong. Many of them – including Tango, Walgreens and Pic Stitch – also made Apple’s Best of 2013 list, which was a real thrill.

But perhaps the most telling trend is the diversity of apps that have joined our partner ecosystem this year. We’ve seen an explosion of interest beyond photo apps – which were the majority of our partners previously. In 2013, we found ourselves (and our SDK magic) happily tucked inside increasing numbers of messaging apps, social apps, commerce apps and many more.

 

A New Visual Lingua Franca Has Emerged:

Unquestionably, photos have become the communication language of the mobile generation. We are long past the point when photo editing was just about turning an average picture into a good one. Photo editing is now about enhancing visual communication between billions of people across the planet, in a way that embodies the full richness of emotions, feelings and inspiration.

That range of expressive possibilities is driving a huge increase in the volume of photos shared to social networks, as well as the increase in diversity of sharing destinations.

In November 2013, 8% of photos shared from Aviary’s apps were shared to Facebook and 8% to Instagram – reasonably consistent with percentages in 2012, but at massively larger volumes. However, in that same period, 7% of photos were also shared to WhatsApp – which barely registered with us this time last year. A picture is worth a thousand words, and apparently now almost as many messages. Meanwhile, in December, users shared to over 350 different social networks from Aviary's apps. Mobile photography is truly social. 

Search for "#Aviary" on Twitter

Search for "#Aviary" on Twitter

In 2014 we expect that Aviary’s magic will continue to attract new, diverse partners to our ecosystem, and that users will continue to share their edited photos, touched with that same Aviary magic, across new platforms that haven’t even been launched yet.

For a great visual of this social sharing activity, search for “#Aviary” on Twitter and enjoy the edited photos flowing right there in the stream. It's a powerful way to see how people all over the world are acting on the same desire to capture and share a moment of their lives, and communicate it just the way they want to.

 

Photo Editing Trends and Styles – from #Selfies to Stickers: 

At Aviary, we’re constantly driven to find new ways that inspire people to play with their visual world. For example, we put a lot of love this year into developing new creative photo editing functionality – such as Color Splash tools and Tilt Shift. Likewise, we regularly release a flow of new content to help people re-imagine their pictures – such as beautiful filters, frames and fun stickers. Our roadmap is even fuller for 2014. But how are people using these tools and content?

Aviary's Color Splash Tool

Aviary's Color Splash Tool

Back in 2012, the top three most used Aviary tools were Filters, Auto-Enhance and Stickers. In 2013, Filters and Auto-Enhance were still the top two tools, but now Blemish Removal is number 3. This trends consistently with the explosion in #selfies. (Why have an imperfect #selfie when you can have a perfect one?!)  

“Pop Art” filter pack and “Craftmas” sticker pack, available in Photo Editor by Aviary

“Pop Art” filter pack and “Craftmas” sticker pack, available in Photo Editor by Aviary

Within Filters specifically, we’ve also seen shifting trends. Whereas in 2012 our most popular filters had a retro vibe, 2013 has seen the adoption of more modern, vibrant effects. Bright filter packs like “Wanderlust” and “PopArt” are big hits, but at the same time arty effects like “Shadow Pro” consistently rank highly in our most-used charts.

2013 also saw the rise of photo editing as craftwork. Our “Craftmas” sticker pack – perfect for turning mobile photos into home-made cards and gifts – was one of the biggest hits of this holiday season.

Kelly Clarkson’s “Wrapped” Frames, available in Photo Editor by Aviary 

Kelly Clarkson’s “Wrapped” Frames, available in Photo Editor by Aviary 

We were also excited to roll out two new content-related offerings in 2013.

Now, apps in our partner ecosystem – using the Aviary SDK – can sell Filters, Frames and Stickers to their own users. (Partners can even work with Aviary to create their own custom content.)

Additionally, we soft-launched Aviary Branded Content as a way for brands to connect with our massive network audience in highly engaging, photo-centric ways. Brands like Gap, RedBull and Disney jumped onboard this year. RCA records got in on the act too, offering Kelly Clarkson fans a range of holiday-themed filters, stickers and frames to celebrate her platinum album “Wrapped in Red”.

 

 

Aviary and the Global Photo Phenomenon:

As the photo phenomenon goes global, so do we. When we redesigned Photo Editor by Aviary for iOS7 in September, it quickly became a Top 10 App in Apple’s “Photo And Video” category in 67 countries. Meanwhile, our SDK was downloaded for integration by app developers in 143 countries this year. While the top five most active countries for SDK downloads were somewhat expected – USA, India, China, Brazil and the UK – by looking deeper into our top 20, you can paint your own picture of a photo-obsessed planet. From Vietnam to Mexico, from Japan to Germany, the diverse number of apps being built around the world with a little bit of Aviary magic is incredible. It's a visual United Nations.

And our internationalization goes far beyond the must-have translations for tools and functionality (we support 23 languages at this point). Just as written and verbal communication is different everywhere, visual communication is equally localized. This means that the Filters, Frames and Stickers we create for people around the planet has to reflect the norms, styles, visual cues and iconography of different cultures. Our Japan launch was the most distinct example of this approach – with our Japanese app now chock-full of Kawaii stickers and Purikura packs. We’re also excited to announce that our next Photo Hack Day will be taking place in Tokyo, co-hosted by our long-term friend and partner Mixi.

Kawaii stickers and Purikura packs, available in Photo Editor by Aviary (in Japan)

Kawaii stickers and Purikura packs, available in Photo Editor by Aviary (in Japan)

New Year, New Office, New Co-Workers (You?):

In conclusion, 2013 has been an incredible year for photography – and for Aviary. We can't wait to get started on 2014. We’ll be moving into a brand new office space in New York’s East Village in February, and we’re hiring like crazy. So if you want to inspire people to play with their visual world – and work with us to give everyone the magic to re-imagine, reinvent, reshape, and share what they see – then check out our jobs page and please apply!

See you next year!

- Team Aviary