TOKYO -- Instant gratification has been put on hold for youth around the world as they embrace the "inconvenience" of a new camera app that makes them wait to see their photos.
"Gudak Cam," developed by Screw Bar, a South Korean startup established in Seoul in 2016, forces users to wait three days while it 'processes' digital photos.
CEO Kang Sang-hoon said that initially there were objections to developing such an inconvenient smartphone app.
But Gudak has made a big splash, with the number of users exceeding 1.3 million within two and a half months of its launch in July.
In terms of number of downloads, Gudak is already the most popular paid app in 15 countries and regions and the most popular app in the photography category in 33 countries and regions.
In South Korea, Gudak is used by popular models and entertainers, as well as ordinary consumers. It is also gradually gaining in popularity in Japan, especially among female high school students.
The Gudak experience is similar to that of a traditional film camera. The biggest difference with other photo apps lies with its old-camera functionality and user-friendliness.
Users cannot see their photos immediately after taking them. They have to use up a "roll" of 24 exposures and then wait three days until the film is "developed."
Smartphone or digital camera users can take many photos and choose only the ones they like. But Gudak users cannot, as they are barred from checking their photos immediately after taking them. They can also take only a limited number of photos in succession. After finishing a roll of 24 exposures, they have to wait for an hour until a new roll of film is loaded.
As soon as Gudak users activate the app, they see a film camera-like image appear on the entire smartphone screen. They then shoot photos while looking at a small viewfinder-like part of the image.
Gudak sells for 99 cents, although many camera apps are free.
Why the hit?
The question is: Why has Gudak become such a big hit?
Screw Bar CEO Kang said that devices such as smartphones are convenient as they allow people to take photos whenever they like. But people "seem to be losing the notion of taking each photo carefully," he said, explaining his motivation for developing Gudak.
Gudak's popularity comes amid the recent revival of film cameras, especially among young consumers in their teens and 20s, with many of them attracted by the retro-inspired and fashionable products.
In fact, monthly sales volume of Fujifilm's "Quick Snap" film-with-lens cameras in Japan has quintupled compared to 2015 levels.
One 17-year-old Japanese female high school student using Gudak said with a smile, "I have a fun time while I wait for the 'films' to be developed."
Gudak makes it possible for users to experience something that smartphones and digital cameras do not offer: the anticipation they experience as they wait for their film to be developed. Buying a film camera app represents spending on experiences rather than on things.
Some analysts said Gudak is being supported by "digital-weary" consumers in South Korea.
Kang noted that most people feel compelled to "present only good photos to the public."
In fact, many consumers are tired of correcting images and taking many shots with their smartphones so they can post pictures that are as good as possible on photo-sharing social media sites such as Instagram.
Screw Bar is developing products other than Gudak. Kang said his company attaches importance to being unconventional and continuing to create products that do not yet exist.
Kang also said his company aims to become "a company that creates unique products," including more than just apps.