Google’s “fresh approach to Photos”

google photos

Google today officially announced its long-rumored online picture service, with free storage for “a lifetime of memories” — unlimited, high-quality photos and videos.

“Every second of every day, people around the world are capturing their memories through photos and videos,” the company says. “Humankind has already taken trillions of photos and will take another trillion this year alone.”

However, “the more moments we capture, the more challenging it becomes to relive those memories. Photos and videos become littered across mobile devices, old computers, hard drives and online services (which are constantly running out of space). It’s almost impossible to find that one photo right at the moment you need it, and sharing a bunch of photos at once is frustrating, often requiring special apps and logins.

“We wanted to do better. So today we’re introducing Google Photos.”

(As Apple earlier this year rolled out its own “Photos” service, you’d think Google could have gone with maybe “Pictures” — but more than likely the idea is to position its offering as direct competition.)

The standalone product (spun out of the stalled Google + social service) provides private online picture storage, as well as organization, sync, and image optimization features. There will be desktop, web, Android, and iOS versions. The service will maintain the original resolution, up to 16 megapixels for photos, and 1080p high-definition for videos.

“With this launch we’ve made a lot of progress towards eliminating many of the frustrations involved in storing, editing and sharing your memories,” Google adds. “But we have a lot more in store—so as you keep snapping photos and capturing videos, we’ll keep working on making them even easier to store, share and bring to life.”

Here’s more information.


CliqPass shares event photos through cloud services


New app CliqPass is billed as “the simplest way to privately exchange photos and videos too big to email.”

Palo Alto, CA-based developer MedioSphere says its “primarily built for users to collect photos and videos from family gatherings, events or group trips. This app alleviates the pain of collecting dozens of photos and videos from a group of people using smartphones or cameras. Users can send requests to friends and family members from the mobile app, without having to sign up or create an account.”

CliqPass collects photos and videos from mobile devices to “personal clouds” such as Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive. Photos and videos are transmitted at their original resolution. The app is available for Android and iOS, and free to use for three months.


SmugMug revamps photo site, service


smugmug new

Online imaging service SmugMug says its upgrade is their biggest launch since 2002 — and is actually not just an upgrade, but a completely new version of the site, “with a fresh, modern look and feel.”

The primary change is to the underlying architecture, with a “responsive design” that ensures customers’ sites and photos look good on mobile devices as well as PC screens. Also, a new Organizer tool makes for easy, intuitive drag and drop to organize all of your photos, the company says.

Current customers can use the migration feature to copy website contents.
SmugMug reports it is “the largest independent photo-sharing site in the world.”
Membership starts at $5/month.


MailPix partners with Circle Graphics to expand Canvas selection


Circle Graphics bridex600

To expand its photo canvas and wall decor offerings, online print service MailPix partnered with Circle Graphics of Longmont, Colo.

The premium gallery wraps on canvas feature eight-color inkjet printing protected by a clear acrylic coating, the company says, “and a staple-free finished back for a perfectly clean look.” The frame is built with a solid face to support the canvas and keep it from deforming and loosening, “so every canvas will look as tight and as flat as the day it was made.”

Pricing starts at $25, and ranges up to $280 for a 32×48 canvas.


KoolrPix personalizes pictures



The last thing the world needs is another pseudo-artsy photo app that simply applies cheesy filters to photos to achieve a vintage or antique look.

Sounds like something I would say, but no, that’s not me talking; that’s the opening from iKoolr’s launch of its KoolrPix browser-based image editor with which users can enhance photos with text, overlays and frames before sharing. Mobile app versions are also available.

iKoolr has basics tools as well as stamp overlays, frames, text, shadows, and patterns. “Recognizing that complex photo editing programs such as Photoshop are well beyond the budget and means of most people to learn and master, KoolrPix was created as an affordable alternative that anyone can master to create simply amazing results,” the company says.

Adding that “Great images should also be easy to print on a wide range of premium merchandise,” iKoolr partnered with Zazzle to offer custom products. The basic service is free, with a $7 annual upgrade for more useable content from iKoolr’s art production studio.

More information is here.


Photobucket raising $9.6M


 Reported by Hans Hartman

Techcrunch reports today that online service Photobucket is looking to raise another round of $9.6 million, of which $5.6M is supposedly already committed.

Photobucket offered long-term photo storage in the cloud lone before it became fashionable — but it’s had a bumpy ride, including a $250M acquisition by MySpace in 2007 and a sell-off for merely $60M two years later.

In terms of partnerships, expectations were high in June 2011 when Photobucket announced they’d become Twitter’s exclusive photo storage partner — but it lost this partnership 1.5 years later when Twitter decided to create their own cloud photo storage infrastructure.

Now Photobucket is readjusting, focusing both on offering multi-device photo syncing and backup services, as well as offering a “photo story telling” solution, which includes creative filters provided by Aviary.

At Suite 48 Analytics, Hartman will cover Photobucket in an upcoming report,  “Solving the Dispersed Photo Problem”, which will entail both the results of a survey among end users about the increased challenge to find photos on multiple devices and online services, as well as an in-depth look at 15-20 vendors that are trying to solve this problem. 

Shutterfly iPhone app create photo gifts



You can “create perfect personalized gifts in minutes” from your iPhone, Shutterfly says — and see an instant preview of your chosen print product on the screen.

The online photo service says its new iPhone app combines photo storage, viewing and photo gift creation, “safely and securely. Shutterfly’s new iPhone app will allow customers to take photos from their iPhones and easily share them with loved ones and create prints, photo gifts and lasting memories.”

The free app works with photos on the iPhone, as well on Facebook, Instagram and Shutterfly.


Nikon makes Space


nikon image space

Hmmm… Since Kodak folded its EasyShare Gallery service, I’m not aware of any camera maker continuing to push its own online service too strongly — though many remain on the Internet from the days where every company thought they had to have one…

But now Nikon has updated its 5+year-old PictureTown online imaging service. The “complete overhaul” warrants a new name, the company says, for the free image sharing that’s open to users of all makes of cameras: “Nikon Image Space.”

Nikon says its service now “makes it easy for camera enthusiasts to upload, view, organize, and share their photos and movies of once-in-a-lifetime moments with greater convenience through sequential operation, which is achieved by high speed operation of the system, an intuitive user interface (UI), a clear window layout, and a simple operation flow.” (I hope the new service is more clear and simple to operate than that paragraph.)

While anyone can have a free account with 2 gigabytes storage, only Nikon camera owners can upgrade to a 20GB “special” account, Nikon adds. Those accounts also provide password protection and image download restrictions.

The site opens on January 28. acquires photographer service Zenfolio


Online consumer retail site acquired Zenfolio, a platform for photographers seeking to sell their shots.

“Bringing Zenfolio into the family was very natural because of the synergy between the two companies in the wall décor space,” the company says. “Zenfolio provides a solution for photographers looking to sell their work online, and will allow us to capture an even larger portion of our customers’ ‘wall share.’”

Founded in 2006, Zenfolio’s subscription-based service provides “online photography presentation and sales solutions for professional photographers and enthusiasts.”

Zenfolio’s founder adds, “We are passionate about photography and believe that beautiful photographs should have an equally impressive viewing experience.” says it has more than 12 million customers in 120 countries worldwide, and is the world’s largest online specialty retailer of high-quality wall art. The company was founded in 1998, and is headquartered in Emeryville, CA. and Zenfolio will continue to operate as stand-alone sites.


Building a new online print business at MailPix


Who says you can’t launch a new web photo service? Not MailPix, which reports its sales doubled almost every month in its first 90 days of operation, as well as its 50,000th site visitor, and more than 2,000 Facebook fans and 1,000 Twitter followers.

MailPix notes it is competing against established players like Shutterfly and Snapfish as well as “hundreds of other startups in a fast-growing $2 billion-plus photo/social expressions industry.”

The company says it is building its social media presence through online photo contests and promotions, “which draws traffic and customers to try our site.” It was founded this year by former Ritz Interactive CEO Fred Lerner.