Today I received an email from Nate Westheimer, founder of the Picturelife service I use to store, manage and enjoy my photos and videos, announcing that the service had been acquired by StreamNation.
Here’s the cliff-notes version of the email:
I’m excited to announce I sold Picturelife. Now on to why, and what this means to you. As for why, turns out we couldn’t afford to run the service. StreamNation will now see if they can figure it out. But it’s not goodbye; although I’ll be doing something else, some of my team are going to Picturelife. I’m excited for you and them!
What’s obviously missing? Yeah, the part about “what this means for you?”
I tweeted about that to Nate, and he replied, mentioning it was an oversight, and that he should have linked to this article on StreamNation’s blog, which, as always in situations like this, states little more than that in the short term nothing will change.
If this all sounds vaguely familiar, it should. Everpix couldn’t afford to provide a similar service, and had to close their doors. Loom sold themselves to Dropbox, likely because they couldn’t afford to run such a service. And now Picturelife.
Is it just not economically feasible for a small company to run such a service? I asked Nate about this, and while my other tweets were answered instantly, this one resulted in silence.
It’s a real pity, and I’m definitely not in a good mood after hearing the news. There was much to like about Everpix and Picturelife. They both understood the importance of good design. They both seemed passionate about their missions, as evidenced by frequent updates to the product and communications to their customers. And they delighted their customers with well-considered features like the daily “memories” email, containing photos from this day in your history. In fact, this feature was the main reason I used the service as, at the end of the day, the point of taking photos in the first place is to enjoy them, and that daily email was so effective!
The big companies offer similar services—Amazon, Google, Dropbox and, soon, Apple—but the experience of using those services falls far short of that of the small players. Which makes sense I suppose; as organizations, they’ve got lots of priorities, of which media management is just one.
So what to do now? Rather than continue to invest in StreamNation—including maintenance of my file-system-based photo workflow, as well as economically—hoping that perhaps they will be the ones who finally crack the viability nut, I’ll likely just go cancel my account, and hope that Apple gets it right.