September 12, 2008
Fotonauts: Images for Humanity
Another TechCrunch50 company with an interesting idea is fotonauts. Founded by Jean-Marie Hullot, former Chief Technology Officer of Apple’s applications division and former Chief Technology Officer of NeXT, below is a shot of him on stage this week demoing the latest and greatest.
I had a chance to see the on-stage demo as well as talk to president Keith Teare afterwards. No surprise that I'm a fan since I love to shoot, and as the line between amateurs and pros blur more and more, the expensive and not that creative or interesting large stock houses will need to offer a lot more value-add than they do today. (a key reason why I took on client Photrade, who launched this week).
The issues on the table. More than 500 million digital images are captured every day and less than 5% of images captured are uploaded to the major photo sharing sites.
Key reasons for this include the fact that uploading is still not easy for mainstream folks, most sharing is still done via email, when images are uploaded, they are not accessible for use by others in their albums, members of different services cannot work together to create albums drawing on images from two or more services, collaboration usually takes the form of shallow “pat on the back” style commenting and online services default license is normally “all rights reserved”.
The images are licensed in such a way as to make them unusable by others. (another reason why Photrade has to succeed in the new world of digital photography - not only do they allow photographers to protect their images but if they do opt to share them, they decide the price of the photo and get the lion's share of the profit, rather than the other way around).
Fotonauts uses synchronization technology to make uploading of images to the Internet easy. They allow multiple users, subscribed to any service with an API, to work together on common creations, without having to use a new service or force others to use theirs. Tagging is automated and they allow multiple collaborators.
Robert Scoble who was on the panel during this session says, "it makes the photo so much more social." On the business model, Hullot says "we're not like photobucket or flickr. We're about the entire photography community. We can do product placement because we have an even stream, so we can push targeted contextual ads to people. People will also be able to create widgets on their blogs around something they like, i.e., baseball."
Also on the panel that discussed this service after the demo was Joi Ito, Sheryl Sandberg and Bradley Horowitz.
The part that I find most interesting is their Images for Humanity plug. Their collective efforts, along with Creative Commons licensing, will help create a definitive pool of images for everyone to contribute to, discover and use.
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