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A Glowing Review of New Photo Service Radar.net by GigaOM
Ed Kohler

Katie Fehrenbacher has written a glowing review at GigaOM about a new photo sharing startup where:

". . . a user snaps camera phone pictures on the go and uploads them to a private network of approved friends, who can then add comments to those photos. The photos are displayed as a channel, so a user can easily glance at all the stuff their friends took pictures of, and can read and add comments to the dialogue. Users can access the site from both cell phones and over their computer."
Can you name that service? Personally, I use Flickr to do this kind of thing, like this blog post with photo created by taking a photo with my phone then emailing the photo to Flickr with a subject and body that became the post headline and body. The photo is also available at Flickr in larger formats. The reviewed service called Radar.net is looking for a new angle. Have they found one?

I've had a hard time understanding what's unique about Radar's offering. According to Ferenbacker:

"The perfect use case is college kids posting drunken photos from parties at 2 A.M. in the morning. Unlike a lot of photo-sharing sites, the photos on Radar aren?「どィび「t supposed to be actually good, they?「どィび「re a message to your friends about what you?「どィび「re doing, where you are, and what weird or stupid stuff you saw along the way."
That certainly doesn't sound like a differentiator to me. I know of no site with photo quality requirements. Nothing prevents you from loading spontaneous cameraphone photos to the photo sharing site if your choice. Photos can be marked private or shared with limited groups on most sites like this. Spontaneous photo sharing is probably best done from phone to phone.

Mick @ Zapr points out that you can ONLY share your Radar photos with other Radar members, so you have to force your friends to sign up with the site just so they can see your photos. They can preview five photos before they're cut off. Scott Lederer of Radar confirms this here. I don't want to force my friends to sign up with a separate service to view party photos. Since my photos are locked in a member's only area, I can't publicly share photos or do blog posts like the above example.

I've tried the service, and my biggest gripe is the auto-resizing of my photos. My phone takes images at 1280 x 1040, but Radar crushed it down to 300 x 240 with no option to view larger - including original - versions of photos. This is all that's left of my 1290 x 1040 photo:

radar-net-resize.jpg

Compare that to how Flickr handled the same photo with sizes from 75x75 to the original 1280 x 1040.

Radar also offers a Java based mobile application that allows you to interact with the service through what's basically a custom web browser. I haven't tried it because it's not supported by my phone. I get the impression that this may offer a better user experience than what I've experienced based on what I've read about it.

The biggest challenge I see for a site like this is the power of the network. Flickr seems to offer ALL of the same features as Radar.net, and could easily catch up on anything I may have happened to miss. More importantly, Flickr has a large network of users. Why would those users with hundreds - if not thousands - of photos loaded to Flickr, an established friends network, and experience with the site migrate to Radar?

Photo Sharing Business Opportunities

Here is what I'd like to see in this space:

1. I'd like a photo service (preferably Flickr at this point) to allow me to set viewing rights on a photo by photo or photoset basis. For example, I may only want to share party photos with a small group. Not everyone on my friends list.

2. I'd like to be able to attach a photo to my Dodgeball check-ins that can be sent via SMS to my friends.

3. I'd like to be able to sync photos between my phone and a photo sharing site based on a tag or set I define.

An Atypical Review from GigaOM

As an aside, this is the strangest paragraph I've read on GigaOM in a LOOONG time:
"The company also knows its target youth audience pretty well, given there are hardly any employees in their thirties or older. Their Mission District (San Francisco)-based offices looks like a local cafe hangout and the CEO John Poisson was the former director of mobile media design and development for Sony in Japan."
That is, until I read the next paragraph:
"Tiny Pictures raised a series A round from Mohr Davidow Ventures of $2.77 million. Poisson said the company isn?「どィび「t looking for funding right now, even though VCs have been banging down his door. The company plans to be at a Churchill event in Santa Clara later today if anyone wants to try their hand at investing. Good luck."
Huh?




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Comments

1. Posted by: Shawn Honnick on September 25, 2006 11:12 PM:

I also have a few phone screen shots of that browser at the link under my name here or http://www.flickr.com/photos/shawnblog/sets/72157594186303440/




2. Posted by: Ed Kohler on September 25, 2006 11:57 PM:

Thanks, Shawn. I think it's interesting that you chose to use Flickr to show photos of Radar.




3. Posted by: Stephanie on October 6, 2006 1:29 PM:

Radar is private and IMHO not intended to be for your "online public persona" like other social networks.

It is for you and your close & closed circle of friends to share "on the fly", whenever and wherever you may be located.

Think about context. Your mom, dad and best friends want to see pictures of what you're doing & comment on them. The general public does not. It's not "event" based photo sharing.

It's not a replacement for Flickr. It's an avenue for real-time private pictoral conversations within closed and close-knit groups.




4. Posted by: Ed Kohler on October 6, 2006 6:40 PM:

Stephanie, I think you're analysis is correct, but I don't understand the need for a separate photo repository for this. Personally, I'd like to be able to keep all of my photos with ONE service that allows me to set permissions on images as I see fit. As you describe the service, integrating it with Dodgeball.com would make my day. That way I could share photos with a small crowd and potentially bcc them into my Flickr account. This way I don't need to replicate my already existing and appropriate social network for this type of content.




5. Posted by: Dean on August 13, 2007 11:11 AM:

Ed,

You might consider a look at our site. It is quite new and -- as with most such things - in constant continued development --- but, the basic functionality is there;

The Event Photo Exchange Depot (www.eventphotoexchange.com) is designed and intended specifically for the exhange of photos surrounding a particular event -- in a simple, task-focused way.

Any event these days (a family/class reunion, music festival, cub-scout campout, conference/convention, etc., etc.) has many digital photographers. The Event Photo Exchange Depot (www.eventphotoexchange.com) allows the placement of all such photos into a common big pot (depot or depository) for all to view, share, download. exchange. No emails, no user-registration, just a simple service focused on a specific task.

While there are many sites -- Flickr being an excellent example -- that allow people to publish their own photos. And - to a limited extent - allow known/defined groups to share/exchange photos --- this site allows a broad-based --almost unlimited sharing/exchanging experience without the need to know ANYONE with whom you are exchanging photos. They only share in a common event experience.

Again, much of this is still being developed. But, the basic functionality is there, and your input would be much appreciated.

Thank you!




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