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As many devoted listeners of the GeekWire podcast know, one of our favorite mobile apps is Postagram, a simple-to-use service from Sincerely Inc. that allows users to take photos from their mobile phones and immediately turn them into physical postcards that are sent via postal mail. Todd Bishop even used a companion service from the same company, dubbed Ink, to send out his Christmas cards last holiday season.

While Postagram has solid name recognition after nearly two years in the market and big-name backers in Ron Conway and First Round Capital, other mobile postcard services are trying to catch up. And one of those players is Seattle-based Postcardly — one of the earliest Startup Spotlights we featured on GeekWire.

Today, the small company unveiled its own free iOS app which allows users to pick photos directly from their iPhone or iPad and send with customized messages to friends or family members. The new app is an extension of the company’s email service, which also allows users to create and send customized postcards in a few easy steps.

“The main reason were adding an app is to give people more ways to send–a lot of our customers love using email, but some users want a more streamlined way to send when they’re on their phone,” said Hughes.

How does co-founder Paul Hughes, a freelance writer and former editor at Wizards of the Coast, feel about the new direction and competition with Postagram?

Postcardly’s Paul Hughes, left, and Thomas Marshall

Well, for one, he says he’s a big fan of what Postagram has built. But Hughes said that Postcardly offers a few advantages over its bigger rival.

The big difference, he said, is that Postagram photos are about one-third of the size of a Postcardly image. Postagram images show in a 3X3 perforated plastic square, while Postcardly touts a 6x 4.25 photo on high-quality card stock. The back of the Postcardly postcard also offers space for about 100 words or 500 characters, compared to 180 from Postagram.

“Not only are our images more commanding on a fridge, but supporting a more conventional aspect ratio is also great if you’re sending nicer photos, like from an SLR,” said Hughes, adding that the additional space on the card allows for “more thoughtful” messages with no big logos or “come-ons.”

Postcardly’s historic disadvantage, that it didn’t have its own app, also is an advantage, he said. That’s because users can use email to send postcards from a PC or a phone.  And then there’s price, with Postcardly charging as low as 67 cents per card, and a new introductory offer for 5 cards for $1.99.

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