“Photos: private or public? SmugMug adds a third option.”:http://www.breakitdownblog.com/2007/05/27/smugmug-rolls-out-islands-feature/ – Riyad Kalla at The “Break It Down” Blog has written a review of a new feature on the photo-sharing site SmugMug, a paid-account-only photo sharing site that many view as an alternative to “Flickr”:http://www.flickr.com or “Zooomr”:http://www.zoomr.com (which plans on launching Zooomr Mark III shortly after 10 PM EST tonight). SmugMug users were complaining that they weren’t always comfortable with absolutely anyone being able to access their photos, but at the same time didn’t want to limit their audience to only the people they had already given a password too. SmugMug has introduced a third option, that allows users to set their photo privacy to “Only SmugMug Users”. Security is a key feature for SmugMug, not only in terms of privacy, but also in back ups and data integrity. The slogan of their “pricing page”:http://www.smugmug.com/price/ reads: “Like Fort Knox for your photos”.
This isn’t the first service to make a privacy distinguishment between public to members of a community and public to the entire Internet. “MindSay”:http://www.mindsay.com, a blogging service I mentioned discussing the “difference between social networks and blogging”:http://jayneely.com/2007/05/27/social-networks-and-blogging-the-chasms-and-bridges, allows users to choose to make their entries completely public, or public only to MindSay users, which then allows them to block specific users, allow only contacts in certain groups to view a post, or make a post completely private. It’s an excellent feature for any truly community-based site to have, because it gives users a feeling of community belonging. The recently much-discussed “Facebook”:http://www.facebook.com does the same, but with an added feeling of exclusivity by not allowing a “public” privacy setting at all.
“How a product delay can become a customer bonding experience.”:http://www.deepjiveinterests.com/2007/05/27/zoomr-mark-iii-how-good-branding-can-save-your-ass/ – “Zooomr Mark III”:http://beta.zooomr.com/ was supposed to be released a week ago. But various technical difficulties have kept the two-man company short on sleep as they’ve done everything they can to get it working, and get it working fast. Any other company would have a status page announcing temporary downtime, but Zooomr has engaged their users while working. They’ve featured at times live streaming video of tech-man Kris Tate explaining how things are going and what they’re waiting on, while users in a Java-based IRC chat ask Kris questions and talk with each other.
They’ve put a human face on a company’s mistakes, gaining them a lot more empathy and a lot fewer complaints than they would otherwise. If you ask any user that’s ever been waiting on a site they love to come back online after downtime, they’d much rather receive updates saying “it’s still not up, but we’re working on it”, than being left in the dark altogether. Through their “company blog”:http://blog.zooomr.com/2007/05/27/zooomr-mark-iii-status-report/, their “personal blogs”:http://thomashawk.com/2007/05/thanks-caroline.html, their “photo sharing accounts”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/findyourownpath/511394374/, and even “through Twitter”:http://twitter.com/thomashawk/statuses/81261362, a very busy, very small company has taken the time to inform their customers and has greatly benefited from it.
“Photobucket: Photo-sharing features better than all of MySpace?”:http://sramanamitra.com/blog/1000 – With NewsCorp in talks to acquire “Photobucket”:http://www.photobucket.com, and Facebook being touted as the anti-MySpace, you have to wonder if NewsCorp would have been better off skipping the MySpace acquisition altogether. Photobucket is profitable, making $87 million in 2006, almost matching the “$90 million”:http://sramanamitra.com/blog/777 in revenues MySpace generated. NewsCorp “paid $580 million”:http://www.intermix.com/about_press_inthenews.cfm?id=752&startrow=8 for MySpace, yet reports state Photobucket’s price tag will be “up to $300 million”:http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/08/technology/08photo.html?ex=1180497600&en=7f8d27a960f9ebb8&ei=5070. Social Networks will rise and fall, because people go where their friends are, and they don’t mind updating information again because it was probably old already. Unless the service you’re using has tools available for easy exporting though, loyalty to a photo hosting service is much stronger.