Picli.com ventures into dark age, returns with business model

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Picli.com, a photo sharing community site launched in private beta in March 2007, has relaunched with a slew of new features and a more clearly defined business model.

Two years seems like a long time for a site to be in beta, and Picli’s developer/designer founder duo of Sam Street and Sean Miller acknowledge this in the FAQ, referring to 2008 as ‘the dark age’ in which, well, nothing much happened. Still, Picli managed to gather a passionate core user community of about 2,000 in this time, whose feedback has contributed to the recent refinements.

Picli’s a bit like Flickr meets Digg – users submit their photography under Creative Commons licensing, which then gets rated up or down by the community. The central focus of the site is the Showcase, a gallery of the most popular photos.

With the relaunch comes tiered membership packages, which the founders are currently soliciting user feedback on before any final decisions are made. There are plans to build upon the online advertising options, currently revolving aorund Google AdSense, and to implement a photo buying service where Picli users could sell usage rights on their images to picture buyers, using a commission-based system which Miller and Street call ‘targeted tagging’. The guys also plan to release an API that will encourage developers to extend the site’s functionality to mobile devices and web apps.

While on the face of it Picli may seem like yet another Flickr, the founders are adamant this isn’t the case – it’s less about acting as a giant harddrive for users to upload all their photos to, and more about community-driven quality control, where photographers share only their best work and take inspiration from others — not dissimilar to what FFFFound does for visual artists.

Miller and Street are bootstrapping Picli for the moment, and say they would love the site to drive traffic to members’ personal portfolio sites as a result of the interest generated on Picli. The site’s gone a ways in proving the concept around a free-to-use model. Whether or not it can compete with the likes of fotoLibra and Demotix will depend on how readily the user community coughs up for annual subscriptions, and whether or not picture buyers find on Picli what they can’t find elsewhere. Watch this space.

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