Good Bye Picturelife

This week, Picturelife got acquired by StreamNation. There’s pretty big news, enough to get me worried about what will happen to PictureLife and more importantly, the future of storing photos in the cloud.

It seemed only yesterday that Everpix made the announcement to shut down. I love Everpix so much and the news came so unexpectedly. It was hard watching a product you relied so much on for things that matter so dear to you closed down. After this episode, I’m realistic enough to know what if a great product like Everpix failed to be sustainable, what about the rest of the competition like Loom and Picturelife?

I’ve tried out Loom as a replacement for Everpix but it ddn’t seem right to be at that time. As we know, Loom got acquired by Dropbox and it’s integrated into Dropbox’s own Carousel photo app.

Picturelife, on the other hand, is the closest we have t to Everpix. I’m mentioning Everpix frequently, because it’s the golden benchmark for every photo storage services out there. It’s easy to use, those kind of set-it-and-forget-it function. I like how it surfaces photos from the past, and pictures in the vicinity I’ve taken in the past. It’s fun and sometimes it fills me up with a tinge of nostalgia as I reflect on how time flies. It has been steady and reliable, but I never get the kind of assurance that it will be around independantly for a long time.

Eventually, my concern (and many others) were founded.

According to its former CEO Nate Westheimer, the fee paid to AWS for hosting such a mountain of photos cost $1 million last year. Though many people love Picturelife and want them to be around forever, this can’t be realistic unless they have enough paying subscribers. If they can’t grow their customer base enough and convert them into paying customers, while at the same time hosting pictures for plenty of free users, they are going to be in trouble no matter how good a product it is. And this is precisely what they’re facing – constantly fighting to stay afloat while trying to grow. But they can only be in this state for so long.

There are no better alternatives. iCloud, Google Drive, Flickr and Dropbox all lack the kind of refineness that a dedicated photo storage service like Picturelife has been delivering. Bar some drastic changes, or integration into StreamNation’s suite of media services, I will continue to use Picturelife. They are like the second home for my photos.

Over at The Verge, author Casey Newton sums it up best:

So far, no one has been able to build a beautiful digital home for our photos and turn it into a sustainable, independent business. The opportunity is still there, but it seems to get further away from us every year.”