Once again, I feel burned by another promotional tie-in app. New photo app Born Electric Cam from BMW Group is a promo tie-in app for BMW’s new i series and the advertising campaign. With all of the marketing dollars at BMW’s disposal, one would think that they would drop a few more to code a quality app. Is there some secret marketing strategy that I missed in college that says it’s okay to hack off potential buyers of your product?

The app itself is great. It’s a simple app to use. The interface is slick and modern. It applies a great looking combination of effects — color washout, high-tech halftone, and some cool bokeh light effects. Pretty cool! Like nearly all other photo app promotional tie-ins I’ve tested, this app only supports low-resolution output. In this case, that’s 500×670 pixels — only one-third of a megapixel. Output is usable for emailing, SMS, sharing on Facebook or Twitter and that’s about it. Square format output is even less at 500×500 pixels. That’s not even large enough to share on Instagram. Output is useless for any usable prints.

I suppose that’s the point of the app — shoot, process, and share quickly with minimal bandwidth. But like so many promo apps before it, the low resolution output makes this app disposable for me. BMW, I’ve played with your effects for a few minutes. Wasn’t thrilled with your app. Delete. Now BMW doesn’t have one of the valuable spots on my iPhone screen.

And that’s too bad. If the app had even usable 2 MP resolution, I’d love this app and would have been playing with this app a lot more, sharing the cool images it creates, and in sharing the app, doing viral marketing for BMW.

BMW makes great automobiles. It’s a shame they haven’t applied that to making great photo apps. Hopefully, if there is a version 1.1, it’ll get a badly-needed resolution bump. This could be a really cool app with staying power.

Born Electric Cam is free in the App Store. Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later.