Photobucket's got a new mobile version, but how does it stack up against the rest?
Photobucket is launching a mobile version of its service today and can be found at m.Photobucket.com. Users with any browser-enabled handset will be able to search and browse both public and privately uploaded photos at up to five at a time using keypad shortcuts. Additionally Photobucket is pushing user uploads of both photos and videos from their phones as a new feature, although this functionality has been around since late 2006 using the slightly less glamorous MMS and e-mail route as opposed to coding an app for phones on the Windows Mobile or Symbian platforms.
Photobucket's internal research study from late last year concluded that 36 percent of its users use their phone as a camera, making it a reasonably important step in expansion. Unfortunately, the experience isn't a whole lot to write home about compared with some of the iPhone-centric mobile apps we've been seeing in the last six months (especially when viewed on the iPhone) that manage to look pretty good on regular phones too.
Some of my gripes include the inability to view uploaded videos via the mobile site, even over a speedy 3G or Wi-Fi connection. Also, using your phone's built-in zoom doesn't improve the resolution of any pictures you're viewing, and they can't be resized. I suppose the saving grace is that Photobucket users who want to pull up a photo to share with their friends won't have to keep it on their phone if they've offloaded it to the service, although you can accomplish similar feats with far more nimble apps like Shozu, which tie into the community (in Shozu's case it's Flickr) with a little more depth.
Other recent additions to Photobucket include a living room photo browser through Tivo set-top boxes, as well as a new universal tagging system--which launched in November--that's a cross between Facebook and Flickr.