The last time I used Photobucket a few years ago, it was basically an image-hosting site. You uploaded a photo, grabbed the HTML or IMG code, then posted your photo at some forum and forgot about the original file. On Wednesday, Twitter made public what had been rumored for a few days: It would offer its own photo and video sharing – “powered” by Photobucket. ZOMG. The last time Photobucket was a big deal, Tila Tequila was the Queen of MySpace. Or so I thought. In fact, Photobucket has remained a player, with 8 billion total uploads as of last December. That’s 3 billion more than Flickr. For a while it was owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Now it has hitched its wagon to Twitter. Photobucket recently launched a mobile app called Snapbucket, which has Instagram-type filters. I tried it out and the burger photo above is the result. Overall, Photobucket is a very functional image- and video-sharing service. As I described in my last post, I use an assortment of sharing services for Twitter. I like diversity and competition, so I don’t plan on giving them up. But if the simplest option for sharing pictures is inside Twitter itself, there will be a rough road ahead for outsiders.
I was browsing at Staples this week and considered buying some photo paper for my inkjet printer. I used to love printing my favorite photos, especially letter-sized. And recently I went on a photo-shooting binge. But the urge to print was gone. There are just too many sharing options now that don’t involve paper. I upload pictures to Facebook, Flickr, and Imgur. I use Instagram and Picplz, which also allows me to share on Twitter (and Facebook and Flickr). I post photos to Tumblr, which is the best blogging platform for images. With the exception of Flickr, all these options are free. I have a Flickr Pro account, which I paid for so I could liberate old photos the site was holding hostage. I also store some photos in Dropbox and Gmail. My video needs are met for free by YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook. Every week there seems to be a new photo-sharing or storing service being launched. Wherever there is an Internet connection and a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, anyone will be able to view my photos. As long as there is an Internet, some of my photos will be out there somewhere. My one printing exception currently is Postagram, which offers to print and mail Instagram photos as postcards for 99 cents a piece. I do that because it’s novel and fun – and cheap. Will I print a photo again? I have a nice printer, so I can if I want to. But paper is expensive, and ink is very expensive. There must be a new free or super-cheap printing service being launched with venture capital money. I’ll poke around and see what I find.
Yesterday I wrote about Postagram, the app and website that lets you turn your Instagram photos into postcards that you mail to friends, family, or yourself. I’ve already mailed four. I also was going to mention the proliferation of everything “insta” and “gram,” but ran out of time. Here’s a partial list of what’s out there: Mapstagram, Inkstagram, Insta-great, Instabam, Instagallery, Extragram, Webstagram, and Instagrid. Just like Twitter has its “Twittersphere” or “Twitterverse” of apps and websites, Instagram is fast becoming its own center of gravity for app and web developers. Instagram launched in October and was an immediate sensation. It was fun, easy to use, and free. It is now reportedly adding 130,000 users a week. Instagram opened its APIs (application programming interface) to developers in February, and the instas and the grams have been rolling out ever since. The most interesting is Mapstagram, which shows Instagram photos being uploaded in real time on a Google map of the United States. You can zoom in to any part of the country to see photos popping up in different corners of your community. It’s illustrative of how pervasive and active Instagram has become, and, according to this blog post by Mapstagram’s developer, how easy these things are to create if you know what you’re doing.
I liked this idea as soon as I read about it today: Send postcards of your Instagram photos for 99 cents each. Sharing photos on your phone is fun, but having an easy option to send somebody a print in the form of a quality postcard makes perfect sense. I want to do it and 99 cents is that magical price point, just like with apps and even eBooks. So now we have Postagram. I downloaded the free app and sent my first Postagram this morning to a mutual Instagram follower and Twitter friend. Because I got the app within the first 24 hours of release I got a free one to send. I just sent a second one to see what a pay one is like. I put in my credit card information, which you only do once, and I was done. Simple and easy. Of course, you can send them to yourself and I’ll be doing that shortly. All that’s left is to get some feedback on the quality of the postcards, which should arrive in
2 to 5 3 to 7 days. I’d hate to hear about flimsy paper stock with sloppy printing that rubs off. If I like it, and get the thumbs up from my friends, then I’ll rate this app a home run. You can also send postcards from the Postagram website. Not only can it be fun in your daily life, but imagine traveling or being on vacation and sending one of these rather than a generic postcard you would buy in a gift shop. You can watch a short video about Postagram here: More
I first noticed photo-filter and sharing apps last year when a friend started posting Hipstamatic pictures on Facebook. I tried the app myself and found it a bit unwieldy. I then tried Instagram and found it to be more intuitive – a natural fit. The charm of the app is that it makes photos look dated, oversaturated or desaturated, scratched and smudged. The various filters can make bad photos better. They can also make good photos great (in my opinion). The free iPhone app has become popular enough that developers are releasing apps to work with it. And you know you’ve really made a mark when other companies identify their products as being like yours, such as live-streaming site Justin.tv, which is working on “Instagram for video.” In December, Instagram reached 1 million users. Just to show how fast things are moving, it took Twitter two years to reach that number. More