Picapp asks: would you be willing to pay? Parallels with Delicious?

At the end of 2010 I noted the demise of Picapp image search and photo licensing. But less than a week into 2011 and Picapp are repentent, emailing publishers once again (see below).

Their email asks if publishers would be willing to pay for the service if they brought it back, and to let them know via a survey. Why they’d not thought of surveying users prior to making their decision to close the service last year is anyone’s guess, but if you’d like to see it’s return and would be willing to pay do let them know.

The situation has parallels with Yahoo’s Delicious, which was also seemed to be threatened with closure just before Christmas via a review of Yahoo services. Users were up in arms and a Save Delicious website quickly launched. Many users jumped ship to other similar (but not quite the same) services, others stating that they’d be willing to pay for this useful bookmarking service, of which I am one.

Yahoo! realising the error of their PR and propensity for internal email leaking responded with a a statement stating that Delicious was not being shut-down but merely up for sale and waiting for a new owner to take it on who could care for it properly.

This didn’t really satisfy many folk and from a business point of view sounds a little on the crazy side, considering it’s fairly low running costs and how it should (but never has) integrate in with Yahoo’s search business. However, Delicious is still with us until the next Yahoo! email leak tells us otherwise.

What’s interesting is that both these stories of Picapp and Delicious tell us two things:

  • Don’t presume you know your customers. Whilst they might mostly be quiet and unassuming this doesn’t mean they do not appreciate a service you provide.
  • Don’t presume that people aren’t willing to pay for services they value and that are useful to them on an everyday basis.

Pinboard, a rival bookmarking service to Delicious who scooped up dis-satisfied Delicious users in December, charges a one time fee of $9.17. Pinboard explain that the fee ‘helps discourage spammers and defrays some of the costs of running the site’ and that the fee is ‘based on the formula (number of users * $0.001), so the earlier you join, the less you pay’.

Oh, and here’s the Picapp email in full for those interested:

Greetings!

Hello loyal picapp users,

Ever since we announced the termination of the picapp image search for blogs , we were overwhelmed by the amount of requests we got from you guys to keep the service up and running.

We always knew that the service in important , as a way for providing affordable and legal access to top content , but it was not cost effective for us to keep running in on a free\ads-based model.

Due to the much interest you guys showed in our support forums and email , we would like to give it a chance and figure out in an effective way , whether you will indeed be willing to pay for such a service.

If enough publishers will show interest , we will then see if we can indeed restructure the business model for the content licensing. Don’t just hit the “yes, I want to pay”button if you don’t mean to put your credit card right after!

So here we go , please provide an honest answer to indicate your willingness (if any) to pay;

And in any case , thank you again for being such a loyal user of the picapp image search for blogs.
The picapp team.

Take this survey

Thank you for your involvement with Picapp and your participation in the Survey.

The Picapp Team

Picapp says goodbye to image search

In 2009 we cheered when Picapp announced a relationship with WordPress to enable the free embedding of news and stock photographs, including images from Getty, into blog posts.

The glee was two fold. Picapp was a source for high quality news images to illustrate blog posts easily (a simple matter of copying and pasting the embed code and selecting which size and position you wished your image to be) and secondly that this would ensure that copyright would not be accidentally breached, as all the images were licensed.

About a month or so ago they sadly announced the end of this nifty and useful service for WordPress.com but it remained for those using WordPress installations on their own servers and to other web publishers. Although existing embedded photographs on WordPress.com would continue to be supported, licensed and maintained. Two days before Christmas Picapp announced the end of this and their image search service – which enabled the selection of images for use – full-stop, via an email to publishers. Here’s how they explain it:

Dear publisher,
Couple weeks ago we shared with you news related to launching the Picapp Widget, our newest app.
With that we embarked on a new journey as a company.

As in with every new journey some things, some say “older” things, change, this is a true statement here as well.

During the past two years Picapp became a source for millions of premium, legal and free images, you have all enjoyed using our images along your posts and we enjoyed reading those posts and seeing the value our images add. Unfortunately despite the increase in usage, the demand was not sufficient to commercially justify this as our core business model, which is why we have decided to terminate the Picapp images search. Picapp will now be focusing only on distributing image-related engagement and monetization tools to publishers.

We realize that for the those of you who love using picapp solely for image licensing, these are not ‘fun’ news to hear and therefore wanted to address some of the questions you probably have reading this text:

What will happen to my already-published picapp images?
As we have committed to you before–all previously published images will remain live on your sites. Picapp plans to continue to bear the cost of content delivery and stream the images so they will appear on your site.
We are making this very clear: all previously published picapp images remain up.

Are the images I already published still validly licensed?
Beyond the technical aspect of having images continue and appear on our sites we also wanted to re-assure, as in with all picapp images, all previously published images have been fully licensed to Picapp and sub-licensed to you as our users so as long that images are used according to our terms these images can remain up.

How can I get new images?
As far as coming to Picapp to grab new images, this service will no longer be available via the site nor via the various plug ins, we have been fortunate to work with wonderful content providers, names such Zuma Press, Pacific coast News and Newscom are just a few, you can reach out to these agencies for direct licensing of images; other resources we recommend are: fotoglif, fotolia, istockphoto.

This change will take effect on December 31st, from that point on there will be no images available to publish thru picapp.com.

As a company we’ll continue to focus our resources and efforts on further developing and promoting the Picapp Widget, as an image engagement and monetization app for publishers, many of you have been using this Widget since we launched it and based on the feedback we got from you so far you are very excited about it!

Thank you for being a loyal user and for being part of our community, we are sad to let this valuable feature go and at the same time we are excited to continue and provide a better, more engaging, image experience to our publishers, building upon what we have learned and what you have been telling us.

Yours,
The Picapp Team

Those wishing to see an example of the new Picapp widget, can look no further than our original blog post, where the embedded photographs have been automatically updated with the new widget. Which as you’ll see is rather unsightly.

Social media and the law: neat move by WordPress

I missed this when it was first announced but WordPress have recently joined forces with PicApp to offer users free access to premium images, such as those below.

What a sensible move. In doing so they have made a positive step towards solving the breach of copyright problem that plagues the web.

[picapp src=”1/0/3/1/Red_umbrella_amongst_24c5.jpg?adImageId=6196216&imageId=5065436″ width=”380″ height=”285″ /]

[picapp src=”3/2/8/4/Obama_Holds_Presidential_c50f.JPG?adImageId=6196328&imageId=6827587″ width=”500″ height=”246″ /]

PicApp stock images are categorised into two types – editorial and creative. The umbrella came from the creative category, and the Obama from the editorial section in which news, sport and entertainment photos can be found.
Pic App screen shot
To use the service simply enter a search term or keyword into PicApp and select the photo you wish to use. A dialogue box then appears helping you select the size and placement together with additional information about the photo and further related images. Copy the embed or image code and paste it into your blog post. See below:
Pic App embedding options

The service importantly solves two problems:

1. For bloggers, publishers and website owners – helps you find quality images easily to illustrate blog posts without breaching copyright or paying royalties. Therefore keeping them on the right side of the law. In the past I have used services such Stock Exchange royalty free photos, used my own photos or screen shots. Yet sometimes you want that newsy image or there are limits to those three options. PicApp claim to have over 20 million images. Whilst the bias seems to be towards the US this is a massive resource to add to the illustration tool box.

2. For photographers and copyright owners – a monitored distribution channel. PicApp claim they ensure copyright owners are paid for their valuable content. It would also seem that PicApp will enable photographers to join the service and monetize their photos in the future.

However, two complaints:

  1. Get rid (or make much smaller) the “Click on the PicApp images for more. Embed” element. It takes up too much space on smaller images.
  2. Resolve how the WordPress.com embed operates – as currently selecting an alignment or ‘wrap’ does not alter the code given and thus doesn’t enable very simple image functionality.