In July 1999, a group of Internet veterans started Ofoto, an online photography service in Berkeley, California. Eastman Kodak acquired Ofoto in June 2001. In 2005 Ofoto was rebranded as Kodak EasyShare Gallery. Kodak EasyShare Gallery has 20 million registered users. It was ranked among The 100 Best Products of the Year by PC World in 2006.
Kodak EasyShare is very user–friendly and the uploading and editing features are very easy to use. I have personally used it for at least 6 years, and have a well organized address book of friends and family on it, that I frequently share “private” photos with, while I use Flickr to share public photos with my blog readers.
Kodak Gallery has come to the online photo sharing phenomenon from the context of “private” photo sharing. Hence, its most core and key function is the ability to maintain an addressbook of friends and family, including “groups” of friends and family.
Extending the Context further, if you are looking to get a customized birthday card, a pen stand, or a mug for a dear one, then Kodak Gallery is the place for you. The site not only allows you to upload, create albums, share and print photographs but also a host of customized value added tools and services. I gave my 85-year old grandmother a photobook of our family pictures, which she thought was super cool!
I also like the ability to reduce red eye, crop a picture or the ability to put a border or change the orientation of a photo relatively easily. Go ahead and try your hand at editing pictures, you are going to love it. The red eye function, in particular, is a big help in handling pictures of people, and often, family photos tend to have a lot of red eye problems.
The site allows free unlimited photo storage and makes its money from the printing and other photo related merchandise from cards to calendars to mugs to T-shirts.
Kodak offers a Picture Protection Plan that stores your photos online and gives you peace of mind if you lose your photographs or if you have a hard disk crash. You can order CDs of your photos as backup for a fee.
Kodak, ofcourse, offers online print services. Rates for prints vary according to size, ranging from $0.10 (4×6) to $22.99 (20×30). Kodak in collaboration with Perfect Touch offers users’ to process their photos, fine-tune intricate details and reduce shadows. Kodak has partnered with Martha Stewart to sell customized photo products like photo books, mouse pads, mugs, t-shirts, stickers, etc.
Kodak also retails its own range of camera and camera accessories (including batteries, camera docks, camera bags and downloadable Kodak software) through the site.
You can also buy CD or DVD of all of your photos on Kodak Gallery. The site charges $9.95- $39.95 for CD and $19.99 for a photo show for a DVD photo show. The site has got the monetization strategy bang on.
A Gallery Premier service allows users to publish public home pages of their photos for $24.99 per year.
With Kodak EasyShare you can save, share and print digital pictures and videos from your PC, digital camera, camera phone or 35 mm film. The site contains about 500 million photos.
Kodak Gallery is a Photo Content Storage Service, with value added services for developing custom photo products using the Content. Thus, by definition, it is a user-generated content play, and monetizes its content nicely.
It could, however, also have a whole lot of other contextual content that is relevant to its user community. The biggest example is Photography and Photo Editing related content. We constantly struggle with Photoshop questions, and Kodak would benefit greatly by doing a partnership with Adobe, whereby Adobe provides Photoshop training and e-learning content to the community. Kodak could thus monetize its userbase via advertising (from Adobe, in this case), not only from commerce.
Kodak’s community usually operates within closed user groups, which allows me to share my photos with my friends and family. The Guestbook allows me to see who has viewed my pictures, and their comments.
Kodak lacks some basic community features. I often share travel pictures with my family and friends. I would like to share my travelogues as well. How about a closed-end blogging function?
Kodak’s personalization is built into its value proposition of creating custom merchandise based on personal photos. It can’t get more personalized, could it?
Kodak has a search option, which allows users to search for photographs in their album but lacks a vertical search engine compared to its peers Flickr and Photobucket.
However Kodak lacks tagging feature and doesn’t allow users to randomly see or search photographs by various contextual nuances like sports, most viewed, celebrity, travel, etc., which has made Flickr so popular. But then again the context over here is to customize your photographs and print them in various formats and in that sense it is different from the other photo sharing sites that are more public repositories. I tend to prefer Kodak’s approach, and don’t like the idea of sharing my friend and family photographs with the world!
Kodak earns revenue through printing and custom merchandise retailing. It ought to look into monetization via advertising, as I suggested earlier.
Web 3.0 Rating: Context: A+; Content: B; Community: A+; Commerce: A+; Personalization: A+; Vertical Search: B; Overall Rating: A