Phanfare, an online photo- and video-sharing service, has announced a new iPhone application that allows users to upload and share their photos directly to the web.
Mobile integration is one way the Metuchen, NJ-based company is trying to make its product stand out from the many other photo sharing services available. That’s really important for a company trying to compete in the incredibly crowded photo-sharing market, and even more so for Phanfare, since its founders hope to make money through premium fees.
“We’re looking to go after the people who want to pay the money for a better service,” chief executive Andrew Erlichson said.
Created in 2004, with a recent 2.0 update in May, Phanfare offers photo and video sharing networks to Mac and PC users in a format that I found easy-to-use and aesthetically-pleasing. The program offers up to 1 gigabyte of storage for free, and unlimited storage for $54.95 per year. That’s more expensive than competitor Flickr, who offers unlimited uploads for $24.95.
But Phanfare differs from Flickr and the Google-owned Picasa in what it has to offer, Erlichson said, because it can be accessed on your living room television and allows users to store the full-sized original images.
And with this most recent update, iPhone enthusiasts will never have to go through their laptops or personal computers. The application allows users to take the photograph, format it, add a caption, load it to an album and share it — all wirelessly. (Particularly with this new application, Phanfare is also competing with general sync services like SugarSync.)
Erlichson said Phanfare has pursued a different customer base as well. While its competitors are courting younger, MySpace-aged users, Phanfare is “recreating the family album with all the benefits of it being online,” he said
The site does a good job of making things basic for even the most technophobic users. A slideshow – complete with music ranging from “Flight of the Bumblebee” to “Pop Pop Radio” – is created with a few clicks.
It’s easy to look at photos from others in your network, too. Phanfare adjusts to various Internet connection speeds, Erlichson said, so if Grandpa wants to check out pictures of your kid’s first piano lesson, Phanfare won’t crash on his slow dial-up connection.
When I took Phanfare on a trial run, I was struck by how simple the site made everything. The homepage is basic and intuitive, allowing users to look at a family and friend albums, upload a new video or create a slideshow with one click. The slideshow in particular seems to be a big selling point for Phanfare. The site walks its users step-by-step through creating a slick album with music, captions and fun backgrounds and then allows this slideshow to be viewed on your television when the whole family comes to visit, or on everyone’s personal computers.
Phanfare raised $2.5 million in venture funding last November. The site currently has around 135,000 registered users, about 10 percent of whom pay for extra storage.