A Silicon Valley startup is trying to make browsing photos easier with a US$500 tablet that does only one thing: share photos.
Alan Chen, Joy founder, says the 13-inch device is the modern equivalent of an “interactive photo album” and that it’s simple enough that even technophobes can operate it.
“I wanted to design something every generation can use,” Chen told Business Insider. “Everyone grew up with photo albums.”
The key to the Joy experience is that it’s totally streamlined. The idea is that the 13.3-inch tablet automatically and seamlessly updates with photos and albums you upload to it, so that when you pick it up you can immediately start browsing.
Imagine, say, automatically uploading photos of your children or your wedding and your parents can scroll through without you having to text or email individual pictures.
Joy also has a feature that allows users to narrate a photo album in real time over the internet.
In fact, in an effort to streamline photos into a package that combines both hardware and software, the Joy tablet doesn’t even have a single port — instead, it charges wirelessly with an included stand.
And although it’s built on top of Android, there’s no way to send email or browse the web on it. The hardware I saw is handsome and was built by a team of former Apple and Sonos hardware engineers.
Plenty of places to share
One of the biggest questions about a product like this is the fact that in 2016, there are endless places to share photos — like Facebook, Instagram, or Dropbox.
But the emphasis on public photo sharing gave Joy an opening, with the startup betting that there are a lot of people who want a better, easier solution for sharing photos with friends and family. “Private photo sharing is totally broken,” Chen says.
If people really find the integrated hardware-and-software model of Joy to be useful, and the pick-up-and-browse promise it makes is fulfilled, then sales could take off as people find Joy to be a good way to share the photos buried on one’s smartphone.
Investors including Obvious Ventures, Box Group, and The Chernin Group have backed this vision with a $2.5 million seed round. “Over the last 10 years, I’ve looked at every single consumer photo deal on the planet,” Obvious Ventures’ James Joaquin told Business Insider. “Photo sharing is getting harder, and it’s because of the rise of smartphones that families like mine have our pictures and video scattered across too many devices.”
“When I met the co-founders of Joy, I was really impressed by the fact that they had a plan to make photo sharing simple again, because that’s what I was looking for,” Joaquin said.
Chen compares it to the iPod — other MP3 players had more features or were cheaper, but Apple’s device had the best user experience. Plus, people already have photos they want to share on their hard drives.
Joy is up for pre-order now for US$299 per tablet. When the device ships next summer, it will cost US$499.
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