Two friends fresh out of university have developed an innovative photography app hosted in Azure that’s gaining serious traction across mobile platforms.
Gamification + photography = a lot of fun: That seems to be the take-away of most new users after spending a few minutes with Pikura, a mobile app hosted in Azure that’s currently available on Android and Windows Phone. The brainchild of two recent university graduates and friends living in Madrid, Joe Fernandez and Pablo Moncunill (together known as Blueduo), Pikura since its launch has gained many enthusiastic users and has even won multiple awards for its innovative “photo challenge” concept.
Here’s how Pikura works: You create a photo challenge such as “Take a picture of a happy dog.” Other users then submit their “happy dog” photo entries to your challenge, and the photo entry that ends up receiving the most likes wins the challenge. Reviews have been very positive, citing a fun user experience that allows people to interact in new ways.
Blueduo’s choice to host Pikura in Azure was important to the success of the app: Azure supports all mobile operating systems, and the team envisioned a critical role for Windows Phone as well as for Android and iOS. Fernandez and Moncunill’s launch strategy was in fact to offer Pikura first on the less-crowded Windows Phone platform–where they believed the app was more likely to stand out and attract early adopters– before they made the app available in the busiest mobile stores.
The strategy worked. On Windows Phone, Fernandez and Moncunill honed the Pikura concept into a minimum viable product (MVP) with the help of user analysis and feedback, and the app attracted a sizable following. Once the contours of a successful product were clearly defined, they opened up Pikura to the Android market, with iOS soon to follow.
Regarding their decision to host on Azure, the Blueduo team have appreciated the simplicity and scalability of the cloud platform. “On Azure it’s super simple to have a backend solution up and running for an app,” says Fernandez. “Plus it is very easy to scale when the traffic requires it.” That back-end solution includes server code written in Node.js, deployed as a web app in Azure. For the Pikura database, Blueduo uses Azure’s SQL Database feature. And the photos submitted to the challenges are stored in Azure Blob Storage.
Fernandez and Moncunill are also more than satisfied with the versatility and flexibility of Azure, including the wide range of its services and “its ability to support whatever choice we want, in terms of tools we want to use on the server side.” Fernandez adds: “Plus the development environment, Visual Studio, and the support from Microsoft are unmatched on other platforms.”
For more information about Pikura and Blueduo, visit http://pikuraapp.com.
Microsoft is helping these startups succeed through its BizSpark program. To join or see other startup stories, visit us at our website here. About BizSpark: Microsoft BizSpark is a global program that helps startups succeed by giving free access to Microsoft Azure cloud services, software and support. BizSpark members receive up to $750 per month of free Microsoft Azure cloud services for 3 years: that’s $150 per month each for up to 5 developers. Azure works with Linux and open-source technologies such as Ruby, Python, Java and PHP. BizSpark is available to startups that are privately held, less than 5-years-old and earn less than $1M in annual revenue.