In 2015, when we first started Polarr, we envisioned carving a niche in the competitive space of photo editing by building the world’s premier photo editing software that leverages web technology to run across all platforms. Fast forward eight years, and we have achieved some monumental milestones. From developing a multitude of award-winning photo and video editing tools used by tens of millions worldwide, to partnering and embedding our photo/camera-related SDKs with leading Android device makers such as Samsung, LG, Lenovo, OPPO, and Xiaomi, we’ve done it all. Yet, amidst our towering achievements, I’ve come to a profound realization: the era of traditional photo editing tools may well be behind us.

Firstly, let’s consider the demand for photos in today’s age. When we strip away the superfluities, only three primary categories of photos command significant commercial value:

1. Commercial Product/Promotional Photos: Critical for businesses and storytelling, these photos are pivotal in driving sales and branding.

2. Event Photos: Aside from newsreel events, life events like weddings, graduations, and births, where capturing memories in their full grandeur is crucial.

3. Photos of Children: Perhaps the most personal of all, these images chronicle the growing years of our progeny.

There’s no denying that certain one-off or exploratory use cases exist, often for entertainment or artistic explorations such as filters, stickers, and generative arts, a recent trend, which is what’s making all the headlines today. However, their longevity and practical sustainability in the long run are questionable at best. And therefore, do not make robust business models with substantial user retention.

Nevertheless, the photo editing market is glaringly oversaturated and predominantly catered towards these one-off use cases. A cursory glance at any app store reveals hundreds of thousands of photo editing applications that apply filters or add stickers. This glut, ironically, adds to the dilemma many photographers face rather than aiding them.In order to build a sustainable and everlasting business in this space, the crux lies in focusing on use cases in photo editing that are in fact repetitive and mundane.

Here’s a revelatory insight: photographers who pay good money for photo editing software programs with near-perfect usage retention, the vast majority don’t want to labor over editing. They would much rather have an assistant to take care of the editing for them. And here’s another insight: such photographers edit thousands upon thousands of photos every month, many of them still are doing it manually. They yearn for simplicity, consistency, and authenticity in their final photos. These photographers don’t desire another app to edit photos; they instead want an intelligent workflow that streamlines the entire editing process so that they don’t have to edit any photos at all. In essence, while photo editing serves as the means, we must pivot our attention to the end goal.

Deep down, photographers are craving consistency, authenticity, and a timeless appeal in their photographs. In our relentless pursuit of building tools, perhaps we’ve lost sight of this fundamental desire. Instead of iterating another photo editor, the right approach would be to build an intelligent system that takes on the mantle of editing, imbibes expert preferences, and executes them seamlessly.

Enter Polarr Next. Redefining photo productivity, this cutting-edge tool is designed for professionals with discerning tastes. Harnessing the prowess of machine learning, Polarr Next learns the unique editing styles of professional photographers more efficiently than any existing solutions. Provide it with a few reference photos, and watch it work its magic on an entire album all of this is accomplished with precision, right within your browser.

In a world inundated with photo editing apps, Polarr Next is not just another drop in the ocean. It’s the wave that’s set to redefine the landscape. And no, the world does not need another photo editing app.

Derek Yan
Cofounder and CTO, Polarr, Inc.

September 1, 2023