Sheesh PHHHOTO, At Least Buy Me a Drink Before Trying to Get the Digits!

Screenshot of the number pad in the PHHHOTO app

Foxie Rating - 1 star - Ugly
I recently read an article that mentioned PHHHOTO, a GIF-making app, and given the seemingly never-ending popularity of animated GIFs in social media (even Twitter had to bow down to the GIF gods), I decided to check out the app myself.

After being underwhelmed by the content on the app’s App Store page, which was so lackluster I had to address it in a separate Foxie review

I downloaded the app, wherein I was greeted by an energetic PHHHOTO-rich video set to ’80s syth-pop.

Screenshot of a intro video in the PHHHOTO app

And then, after completing a simple sign up form…

Screenshot of the signup form within the PHHHOTO app

My roll slowed to a screeching halt upon the sight of this:

Screenshot of the phone verification form within the app

What the what?!

Phone number verification? To make sure I’m not spam?

You’ve got be kidding me!

Even though young people, PHHHOTO’s target audience, are more willing to share personal information in order to be hip to that which is new and trendy, in the wake of the mega-release of nude celebrity photos stolen from The Cloud this past summer, as well as the proliferation of text message spam… and not to mention last week’s massive #SonyHack, today’s youth aren’t as a loosey-goosey with their private information as they may have been five, ten years ago.

But in the words of Levar Burton, don’t take my word for it:

Screenshot of two negative consumer reviews for the PHHHOTO app in the app store, complaining about the fact that the app requires phone number.Screenshot of a negative consumer review in the app store, complaining that the app requires a phone number for no good reason

Mr. or Ms. ProjectBootleg, I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Which Begs the Question…

I’m curious as to whether a product manager, assuming there is one, is monitoring PHHHOTO’s drop-off numbers between app download and phone number verification.

I think PHHHOTO has the potential to be a popular social sharing app that holds a fun and humorous sweet spot between Instagram and Vine.

But with a sign-in process that has a greater barrier to entry than that of the Social Big Boys, Team PHHHOTO is missing out on an opportunity to rapidly grow its user base.

The Optimal Option

First, Team PHHHOTO should make phone verification OPTIONAL at the outset.

That way a user can check out and experience how the app actually works before they commit to providing their mobile phone number to a mysterious entity that spells the word photo with three Hs.

Second, the phone number fields should be moved to the initial sign-up page, reducing the number of steps in the sign-up flow.

The Bare Necessity

Third, later and deeper in the app’s user flow — when and ONLY WHEN phone verification becomes an absolute necessity for operational integrity and security — Team PHHHOTO can make said verification a requirement before a user is able to access a certain type of related functionality.

And fourth, whenever phone verification is mentioned within the app — either in a required or an optional capacity — Team PHHHOTO needs to better explain the benefit(s) a user gains from verifying one’s phone number — a la this Facebook Secure Your Account modal.

Benefits beyond “keep spam off” and “link all of a user’s PHHHOTOs together.” Because neither of those reasons justify the absolute need for a user’s mobile phone number.

The Big Boy social networks are able to manage spam and show all of a user’s posts, photos and whatnot without the mandatory collection of the user’s phone number.

And so shouldest thou, Team PHHHOTO.

So shouldest thou.


One thought on “Sheesh PHHHOTO, At Least Buy Me a Drink Before Trying to Get the Digits!

  1. Totally agree with you on the phone numbers aspect, but the app itself is pretty fun! Always amazes when I take one and share it with a friend. Am I sounding enough like a millennial?


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