Editor's note: Sramana Mitra is currently running a series on her blog reviewing the photo sharing industry. Her previous Read/WriteWeb post discussed Flickr and in this post she looks at Photobucket, using her Web 3.0 framework.
Photobucket, founded in 2003 by Alex Welch and Darren Crystal, is an image hosting, video hosting, slideshow creation and photo-sharing site. VCs including Insight Venture Partners and Trinity Ventures funded the company.
According to comScore, January 2007 report, Photobucket has 17.6 million unique monthly visitors in the U.S. and over 27 Million unique monthly visitors worldwide. The site has over 40 million registered users. According to Reuters, Murdoch's Newscorp (owner of MySpace), is all set to acquire Photobucket for an estimated price of $250 million. Photobucket, with close to 3 billion photos, is the # 1 photo site in the world.
In general, Photobucket's roots are in the MySpace community using it as their storage repository. Hence, the categories that bubble up to the top are related to the youthful nature of their users' Context. In contrast, a site like Flickr caters more to photography aficionados, and thus, the Contextual difference is evident in their broader strategic moves.
Photobucket has a public database of photos and videos categorized into "top searches", "top categories", "recent images" and "recent videos". There are a few top categories like, Celebrities & Music, Parties & Events, Sports, Photography & Arts and Animals.
I liked the top categories section. I also liked the fact that every time I selected a top category the videos related to that category were listed below. Good navigation.
Photobucket is the leading site in online photography and allows users to upload, search and share photos and video clips, images, copy links, and then post content on popular website or blogs like MySpace, eBay and Xanga. The site contains over 2.8 million images. The site offers a free account with storage of up to 10,000 photos and videos. Photobucket provides its premium account holders storage space up to 10 GB and free bandwidth for a subscription of $25 annually.
Photobucket, like Flickr, allows users to upload a single photo or photos in a batch. However, uploading photos in a cluster is not as fast as Fotki where a click on the photo folder rapidly uploads the entire folder.
30% of the uploaded images are not photographs, but user creations, mostly homemade animations, icons and avatars made by the Photobucket community members.
Photobucket users in the UK can take any of their images or photos and publish them on their mobile phone. Photobucket provides a tool to modify images by adding frames, icons, or text while seeing the image exactly how it will look on the phone. Photobucket has partnered with FilmLoop to make it easy for users to instantly create their own photo "loops" from existing image albums by simply clicking on the "Loop It!" button/icon in their photo album. After Filmloop's acquisition by Fabrik, this relationship may become complicated, since Fabrik is a competitor to Photobucket.
Photobucket introduced BucketStamp, a dynamic imaging tool that allows users to share multiple images in a single link, combined with some fun animation. The video remix is also a fun tool and allows users to mix and match photos, images and videos.
Photobucket had banked on other Social Media sites like MySpace, Facebook, Xanga, to power their community and sharing functionality since its inception. Users can store large volumes of images and video on Photobucket, and link from MySpace or Xanga. The actual sharing happens in MySpace.
Recently, the site was shut-off by MySpace, following which, MySpace parent News Corp has decided to acquire it for $250 Million. News Corp has been suffering from limited monetization of their MySpace asset, acquired at a hefty premium of $580 Million. Now, with MySpace and Photobucket under the same roof, Photobucket's Community function becomes secure, and MySpace's monetization strategy also becomes solidified.
The site offers online print services through a partnership with QOOP for personalized mugs, t-shirts, mouse pads, photo books, luggage tags, calendars, greetings cards, posters, etc. The charges vary depending on the size and level of customization and type of products.
You can also buy a CD or DVD of all your photos and videos stored in manner that you can see them in sequence. The site charges $10 for CD and $15 for DVD.
Personalization allows Photobucket users to upload and create albums, remixes, avatar and slideshows, buy prints and share album. With the MySpace acquisition, the level of personalization the users would be able to access is soon going to change dramatically.
Photobucket's search engine allows users to search for photos, images and videos. I wish Photobucket allowed search by location, tags, date and photographer like Flickr.
Photobucket earns revenue through subscription fees for its premium accounts, printing services and advertisements. It offers customized packages for advertisements dependent upon targeting, interests, keywords. In 2006, Photobucket's revenue was $9.34 million and is forecasted to grow to $32 million in 2007. In 2006 advertising accounted for 68% of revenue. The site displays advertisement when photos, images or videos are being loaded. The site advertises 99.9% of uptime.
Web 3.0 Rating: Context: A-; Content: A+; Community: A+; Commerce: A-; Personalization: B; Vertical Search: B; Overall Rating: A-