The world of digital photography had a shot in the arm yesterday when Facebook picked up Instagram for $1 billion, and it’s perhaps a sign of how all players in that space now need to up their game. Today brings news of a development from Photobucket, the online photo site that scored a huge deal last year when Twitter announced that it would power its image service. Photobucket today announced a deal with Pixlr, the cloud-based photo editing service from Autodesk, in which Pixlr’s tools will be integrated into Photobucket’s site.
The deal will see Pixlr replace Photobucket’s current editing service, FotoFlexer, which had been working with the site since 2008.
The announcement comes one week after Flickr announced that it was picking Aviary for its photo-editing services.
Photobucket, which now has 100 million users on its platform (not counting numbers from Twitter, which it does not share), says that the new service will come in two tiers of service, a more in-depth Pixlr Editor, which looks a lot like Photoshop, and a version called Pixlr Express with more basic functions for quick edits.
The service will also give Photobucket the option of monetizing its service a bit more: advertisers, it says, will be able to create branded effects through the service for Photobucket ad packages.
The deal is a big one for Pixlr, which only has about 25 million users at the moment, and underscores how a bunch of new entrants with strong services are jumping into the vacuum created with the departure of Picnik, which shut up shop after it got acquired by Google.
While the Instagram/Facebook deal certainly points to how closely photography is becoming aligned with mobile, there is still a big market for digital camera use and editing online, according to Tom Munro, the CEO of Photobucket, who says of that deal: “I love the attention that the photo and video space is getting lately. If you go back three years it was kind of flat. But now it seems like there’s something happening every day.”
At the moment around 25-30 percent of photos on Photobucket come from mobile devices, Munro says — although the proportion is growing. In the last year, he says that the amount of mobile video on the site has grown by 15-16 times. It’s a market that Photobucket is trying to grab in its own way: it has Photobucket for iPhone, iPad and Snapbucket for iPhone, as well as Android apps. One of the features Munro says it’s looking to pursue is ways of letting users create their own filters that they could then apply via apps.
(Photobucket’s mobile numbers, by the way, do not include Twitter traffic, which would probably skew it even further to mobile. Photobucket does not give out numbers related to its deal with Twitter.)
Munro says that currently Photobucket images are used across 2.5 million websites, with 4 billion images served across those sites daily.
But while Photobucket continues to expand that network and the service it offers to users on its own platform, Munro notes that the company is pursuing more white-label deals along the lines of what it has established with Twitter. “We are talking to others for Twitter-like deals,” he says. “We are having conversations. We do have an expertise in hosting photos and videos and we are seeing interest.” He notes that that interest has not extended to conversations with Pinterest.