Apple Saves the USPS!

Amidst all the hype of Apple’s new iPhone 4s and iOS 5 was a little announcement of huge importance that got very little attention. On October 12, Apple announced the Cards app for the iPhone. For $2.99 postpaid ($4.99 sent outside the US) you can take a photograph from your iPhone and have it printed and mailed as a card.

While ordering custom greeting cards online is nothing new (Hallmark has offered it since 2007) Apple’s Cards has a few distinctions that set it apart from the others:

  • The portions of the cards that aren’t customized are letterpressed, so the quality is higher than anything else out there.
  • It’s $2.99 a card, cheaper than anything similar you’d find in a store, and that price includes postage & mailing.
  • Everything is done right from the phone, so it’s more convenient then, well, pretty much anything, making it as easy to send a card as a text message or an email.
Okay, so maybe “saves the USPS” is a little hyperbolic, but ideas like this will do a lot more to save the USPS than selling its postal soul by putting live celebrities on stamps. From the start advances in computing have been damaging to the USPS. If people are sending email, they’re sending fewer letters. If people get magazines as a PDF or eBook, they’re getting fewer printed magazines through the mail. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. When computers first started entering into mainstream businesses, they came with the promise of a “paperless office.” In actuality, computers increased the amount of paper that offices consumed by creating new ways to put more stuff on paper.
If we want to save the USPS we need to look at ways that technology can be used to increase the amount people use their services. Apple Cards is a solution that’s full of win. It offers something that is cheaper and better quality than what I can get in the stores, customizable to make it much more personal than a regular card and convenient to the point that the only easier option us just to not do anything. It increases the¬†likelihood that I’ll be using the USPS without costing the USPS anything to implement. What other solutions are out there that would have the same effect?

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