CTIA – Media-Sharing Services Cool Enough To Make You Forget The Disappointment of MMS

MMS was a bust for photo sharing (not as if that’s news or anything), but the problem was in the execution, not the concept. People like to share photos, and they want to do it — but sending a message to another person every time you take an interesting photo is a pretty awful mechanism. Thus entered moblogging, and all was good. Then people started using things like Flickr on the desktop, and some of them said, wow, it would be cool to have something that worked so nicely on the phone, too. And an industry was spawned. There’s no shortage of companies taking a crack at photo — and other media sharing — from mobile devices. Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of junk out there, but there are some people doing pretty excellent work.

At CTIA, I met with John Poisson, who I’d first heard of back towards the end of TheFeature, when we ran an interview that made him sound like somebody that knew what was up when it came to cameraphones. His company, Tiny Pictures, has released a new application/service called Radar, that, as Poisson puts it, isn’t about photo sharing, but about sharing experiences. Something like Flickr is great, he says, for sharing pictures, but Radar is really designed for mobile users who want to share their lives with their friends. It’s designed in such a way so that the photos aren’t an end in themselves, they’re just a jumping-off point for more interaction among friends. The idea isn’t “hey, look at my photo”, but rather “hey, look at what I’m doing”.

This aim really shines through in the design, both of the web site, and on the Java app for compatible handsets (there’s a mobile Web version too). The setup is pretty simple: login to the site, and you’re presented with a page showing the latest photos from your friends and the latest comments on your own photos. What I think is a little cooler is the “Channels” view, which shows your own photos in a timeline at the top of the page, followed by your friends’ images — which emphasizes the idea that your friends are telling you a story, or really, their story. Radar is very cool, and worth checking out. The only problem? It’s no fun if you don’t have any friends on it too — so buddy up and get on there.

shozu.jpgWhile we’re talking about media sharing, I also checked back in with the good folks at ShoZu at CTIA, and they’re still cranking. They plan to have version 3.0 of their software out by the end of the month, which will include support for ZuCasts, a feature that’s been in beta for a little while now. The first phase of ShoZu was to enable people to push their content, like photos, up to sharing site; this second phase will push media down to users’ handsets. ZuCasts are different kinds of content — photos, video, audio — to which users can subscribe. It’s basically like a podcast, but with all the same benefits when downloading as ShoZu offers when uploading photos, like compression, transfers in the background, recovery from interruptions and so on. Users can also control when feeds are updated — every night, for instance, so fresh content is available in the morning, or manually.

ShoZu’s signed up several content partners, and they’re working on more, with things just swimming right along. The bigger news: they’ve got deals in the works with three of the top five handset manufacturers to get ShoZu embedded in their devices. And that’s not just smartphones, but mid-range featurephones too.

That’s not all the sharing fun from last week — I’ve got news from Vizrea as well, but I’ll save that for another post.

[tags]mobile, cameraphones, mms, shozu, radar, tiny pictures, photo sharing[/tags]

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