Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

Commitment anxiety

I’m sure a lot of Squash readers are like myself and basically try out every new service that comes along. Most you never use again, a few you experiment with for a while jumping between competitors and then there are those few sites that you really commit to.

Committing to a web app is a big thing. It’s generally not easy to pull information in and out of most Web 2.0 sites, not to mention the time in training and becoming familiar with an application. What’s more, due to the social nature of most web apps, it’s quite likely you’ve convinced friends, co-workers and family to follow your lead.

Which is all very well and good, except most web apps are still pretty immature. They all have long product roadmaps, promise they’re working on new features and often can be quite buggy. So if you do decide to commit to a web app, you put a lot of faith that the company you’re going with is going to deliver on its promises.

I’ve switched photo libraries six times. I went from flickr to smugmug to photobucket back to flickr, onto picasa and finally thought I’d settled on smugug. In the end, I like how much you can customise your galleries with smugmug and the customer service is better than the larger players.

However, being smaller they don’t have the third-party support. For example, the new online Photoshop Express doesn’t pull in photos from Smugmug but it does the other services I tried and then left behind. On a number of occasions, I’ve almost switched back to flickr. It’s cheaper (I don’t mind paying for a good photo library and I’m a smugmug pro user) and seems to have almost become de facto standard in terms of having the support of third parties which has become increasingly important. But I’ve uploaded a lot of photos to smugmug and really don’t want to lose that time and bandwidth investment. Plus, I still do really like the service.

However, recently videos have been a sticking point for me. I want to use one service for videos and photos and have been hanging out for this feature in smugmug. Thankfully, they added that support but they’ve been lagging in providing a nice Flash player, which is obviously critical for embedding and making reasonable use of your videos.

It’s been promised as coming for a long time and it’s something that’s now holding up a couple of work projects as we’re hoping to use the smugmug video engine on MediaConnect websites. So when Flickr unveiled they’re really neat video service in the last 24 hours, I must admit to having pangs of jealousy.

I know the Smugmug crew will do a great job when the flash player comes but I’m afraid I’m not a very patient user. Oh commitment is tough, even in the web world.

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6 Responses

  1. Soon….. Very soon.

  2. I should mention, too, that we have pretty fabulous 3rd party support. :)

    In both the current and previous Photoshop Elements and Photoshop CS, SmugMug is built-in, for example.

    Lightroom, Aperture, Picasa, iPhoto, ACDSee… the list that’s supported either by us or by 3rd party plugins via APIs is pretty extensive, and that’s just the desktop software. Web apps are even more prevalent.

    You’d have to ask why Adobe didn’t include us in their online version when we’re in the box for their retail versions, though. I just don’t know.

  3. Dunno if you know ‘cus most people miss this, but SmugMug is one of the few sites you can upload to from Photoshop and Photoshop Elements (also Lightroom).

    We’ll see what happens with Express.

  4. Elias says:

    It’s unfortunate SmugMug doesn’t support DataPortability like Flickr either – because this is a future scenario that is likely to be obsolete. The value chain of online content has expanded so that sharing sites like Flickr and SmugMug are no longer just a storage service but also a community service. In the value chain, they need to recognise they should compete on the user experience and not the underlying storage.

    By recognising the storage service is a non-value add and commodity based, which is only going to be accelerated by Amazon S3 companies will then compete based on the experience they give to the user. With DataPortability, a user can have both a Flickr Pro and Smugmug pro account, and a user can switch interchangeably because the underlying storage can be used by multiple applications. Therefore, a user can use the application they desire, which by no means is mutually exclusive and will allow overlap if a user prefers a different service over another for a certain feature.

    It would be a win for Flickr, SmugMug and the user.

  5. Elias says:

    It would be good to have SmugMug officially supprt DataPortability like Flickr – because this is a future scenario that is likely to be obsolete. The value chain of online content has expanded so that sharing sites like Flickr and SmugMug are no longer just a storage service but also a community service. In the value chain, they need to recognise they should compete on the user experience and not the underlying storage.

    By recognising the storage service is a non-value add and commodity based, which is only going to be accelerated by Amazon S3 and the Google Apps Engine, companies will then compete based on the experience they give to the user. With DataPortability, a user can have both a Flickr Pro and SmuMug Pro account, and a user can switch interchangeably because the underlying storage can be used by multiple applications. Therefore, a user can use the application they desire, which by no means is mutually exclusive and will allow overlap if a user prefers a different service over another for a certain feature.

    Interoperability is a win for Flickr, SmugMug and the user. Better still, if SmugMug chooses to continue to battle in the market for storage, allowing their users to use the photos in other applications, it will still mean they have a relationship with the user even though they don’t use it for anything else. This ensures a long term relationship with the user, for when Phil decides Flickr doesn’t meet his requirements any more :)

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