Saturday, May 27, 2006

Photo Fulfillment for community

I just found qoop, a photo fulfillment site that has partnered with webshots (cnet), photobucket and flickrand allows users to print pictures from these sites into a mini photo book or poster of 1000s of pictures, all at a very nominal fee.

This is a small step towards my dream of digital scrapbooks, but its a sensible monetizing move in that direction. Qoop has the core competency in photo books fulfillment and the photo sites have done well in partnering in what I guess must be a revenue share deal.

The best part of what I like about qoop is that that market to social networks and college crowd, focusing on the community aspect of photo sharing which is an obvious revenue opportunity for photo sites.

I've been waiting for yahoo photos or shutterfly to offer this community aspect of sharing with some ecommerce options.

While Flickrs is integrated with Qoop, just wondering why Yahoo photos is not part of the qoop partnership. Didn't Yahoo Photos relaunch their AJAX version of their site saying they had more photo users ever at Demo 2006

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Start with community and get local search

Web 2.0 is all focused on communities and it can't be more apt for any hosted solution than local search.

Listen to "The Architecture of Participation" by Paul Levine, GM of Yahoo Local. Its focused on the marriage of search and local people looking for stuff.

Local communities in the offline world are all around us in the school clubs, alumni groups, PTAs, bars, networking events groups of all kinds, all different segments of population, with one thing in common - hudling of people seeking a common connection to find information about local referals to solve a specific problem NOW!

I think Yahoo groups is the largest collection of active online groups.

I think the solution to local search is not a typical search solution - search content and find information, focusing on better search algorithms and UIs around it. I think its one of bringing offline communities into the online world with little or no change in behavior to solve the problem they are looking for information, validated by their trusted network NOW!

The trusted community aspect is what made all the tagging community sites famous and built a community of people around them - friendster, delicious, kaboodle ...

It a low hanging fruit waiting for the larger portals and hosted players to marry this community into their existing group solutions and focus on the community and their needs which in turn should provide the local search solution as the end product.

They should not start with a local search product and find marketing to reach the community who will use it. Isn't our first wave of web 1.0 lession about personalization and customization?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Open Source Photo Management Software and Hosted Photo sites

I've been writing about hosted photo sites and I am tired of the lack of differentiation amongst all of them! I believe in photos as a medium of communication of our society and archiving of our times.

So, hosted photo sites should not stop at allowing uploading and sharing of pictures and be happy with charging for printing. In today's Web 2.0 world where online communities are empowered with wikis and blogs and forming participatory media communities, I hope photo sites Yahoo or shutterfly would wake up to the potential of online communities beyond the customer communities on their sites and provide new offerings integrating rest of the web.

I got an email today inquiring if I had tried any of the softwares in this space.

I've written about Picasa.

I've used Gallery, the opensource Photo management software that can be setup online and integrated seamlessly into any web site. Its great for allowing a community of users to create directories and manage their own photos for sharing online with others.

My friend Raaj has been offering a gallery installation for his friends and family at his home portal since 1997.

I like how gallery integrates with leading photo sites to allow purchase of photos as you are viewing a shared photo. I've tried the purchase link to shutterfly particularly. Its not easy to use them because the integration is not completely done with the companies blessings. So, when I see a picture I want to buy and click the "Buy from shutterfly"link, it treats me as a new guest user on shutterfly and doesn't my profile there, which I didn't appreciate.

Its a shame that the photo sites have not appreciated the value of such communities and lost the potential revenues from them.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Photo sites and participative community integrations

I tried uploading some pictures to share with friends.

Yahoo Photos with their new AJAX view is cool. So I tried to upload a bunch of pictures. Was wondering, "hey its Yahoo, maybe if they integrate Yahoo groups to this and allow me to define groups of people who can access my pictures, I can dynamicaly change that list instead of separate permissions and adding user lists for each album".

Guess what? Yahoo picture upload tool is integrated with Yahoo toolbar and its bulky and takes time. I can understand the benefits for a user who wants the toolbar for everything else. But not me! Anyways, it didn't work for me for several technical combinations, which I'll skip here.

I like shuttefly for the quality of their prints and never use them for just sharing pictures.

I went to shutterfly, and when you click "add pictures', they seamlessly start installation of a plug-in and within seconds, I am ready to drag and drop pictures. Its clean UI and the mention at the bottom how long it will take for my type of connection speed, so I am off to write this blog in parrallel.

I am one of those spoilt web consumers, who assumes we've seen enough consumer sites over the years that its easy to understand seamless usability and expect companies to get those smart engineers who just take us through just the flow we want :-)

Now I wish shutterfly would build some community options that will allow people to share pictures and pay for selct viewers to order prints on their own choice. That way power photo users like myself can happily spend the dollars and not worry remembering everyone's mailing addresses or be forced to print everything for local pickup and old fashipn distribution in person.

I think if any photo site would think of the participative online community trend of today, we can see a whole lot of services which would be cool for us and worthy revenues for them.

Monday, May 01, 2006

v-shake - digitization of business networking with a new revenue model

I was going to focus this blog on digial media in terms of technologies pertaining to digitizing all forms of content. Since content and communities are now interwoven, I think its appropriate to comment on social and business networking- on the increased digitization of our community interactions with hosted technology solutions.

V-shake brings a market-driven model to linkedin

I love linkedin. I get lot of people who google me and get frustrated and cannot find my contact and finally sent for introductions thru linkedin.

But, the limitation of linkedin is that the real people who vield power - particularly executives investors can rule out that they don't want to receive any inmails or introductions. So linkedin has resorted to selling some service as a membership package to allow spamming a whole bunch of people, atleast once. I think that revenue model is highly flawed because the segment of paid consumers is small and doesn't scale revenues much.
So linkedin has resorted to being yet another job site by targeting recruiters to reach potential hires, downplaying the whole potential of business networking.

I recently found, a new startup just launched in beta. They take a market driven approach, allowing people to charge different rates for people to contact them through different means and sharing the revenues with these highly networking individuals.

The social networking sites like friendster, myspace are famous because they are all free and built a community, lack a b-model and became famous only by their aquisition by Yahoo, News corp etc.

What fascinates me about is that they are clearly focused on a segment of business users who are power networkers - the sales people, bizdev partnership people, entreprenuers seeking investors, executives networking amongst themselves to keep their marketability.
These are people targeted by the conference industy which tries to segment them by verticals and earn their dollars for the overall conference program. tutorial is proof of the smart technial people behind the company. Its the best written visual tutorial I've ever seen.

I hope the company would listen to the market and lock-in this segment of customers and create the first revenue generating new b-model of web 2.0 companies.

Nothing can get more human on the net than

My friend Paul English started by passionately wanting to make life as a consumer in America easy with faster access to customer service phone lines.

Its an amazing example of social networking clearly solving a problem bringing people to bond together as a community. I think this community has built itself on the net with so much passion like the early formation of real towns by the early settlers of America, guided by the marketing genius of Paul.