As the market for digital photos heats up, a small start-up has inked a
deal with telecom company US West for sharing snapshots online.
Club Photo, a San Jose, Calif.-based company, is expected to announce the
relationship sometime this week, said Andrew Wei, Club Photo's chief
Club Photo will provide picture-sharing capabilities to US West network users.
The deal is similar to AOL and Eastman Kodak's "You've Got Pictures."
"Once people use the service to create photo
albums for sharing with their friends and family members, they will see how
convenient it is, and they won't go back to the conventional methods," Wei
The US West deal alone isn't particularly significant, because US West Net
users can use any photo-sharing sites available. But Wei believes US West
users will chose Club Photo as the site for exchanging pictures
because of the relationship between the two companies.
Carl Holec, senior analyst at ARS, speculates that more such partnerships
will develop as photo-sharing Web sites attempt to win users from tough
competitors such as Jim Clark's latest venture, Shutterfly;
Hewlett-Packard's service, Cartogra; and newcomer Zing Network.
"Photo-sharing companies are doing just about anything they can to get
people to use them," Holec said. "I think we're going to see a lot of
partnerships with a lot of different businesses."
Photo sharing allows people to send photographs through email or design
photo albums for viewing.
The Club Photo deal also points to the emergence of a new set of
competitors in the amateur photo world, said Chuck Davenport, senior
analyst at Lyra Research.
"Here you have a telecom and an Internet company that were not part of the
photo industry two years ago," he said. "The photo industry is completely
and totally being redefined, just like the music and movie industry."
In an effort to carve a niche for itself in the crowded digital photography
field, Club Photo has announced two other deals.
One is a partnership with Acer Peripherals American, which will give Acer
users the ability to share photos online for free.
The other is a 50 percent discount on photographic prints--a price Club
Photo claims will rival the cost of standard film prints. Photographers
will be able to choose the pictures they want to print over the Internet
and have them delivered to their home. The new rates range from $4.50 for
an 8-by-10-inch photograph to $1 for a 3-by-5-inch print.