Earlier this week I met with Cooliris CEO Soujanya Bhumkar and VP of Business Development Sebastian Blum, who told me that these efforts have been paying off. There are now 3 billion photos connected to the Cooliris service, and 1 billion of those photos have been engaged with in some way. Bhumkar also said that Asia now accounts for 35 percent of the company’s user base (compared to 30 percent a quarter ago), and he expects that percentage to go above 40 in the next three months.
What Cooliris didn’t provide was user numbers — back in February, the company said that it had been downloaded 3 million times on iOS (Android and web versions are still in the works).
Users connect their photos because Cooliris gives them a way to browse images from across a number of services (including Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr) using the company’s 3D wall technology. Thanks to increasingly prominent social features, users can also share and discuss their photos with small groups of family and friends.
Bhumkar suggested that the partnerships are an efficient way for “an 18-person company” in Palo Alto that hasn’t “set up offices around the world” to reach a global audience. These go beyond simple integrations, because Cooliris’ global partners agree to promote the app to their users (Bhumkar showed me a screenshot of the service’s prominent placement in the Baidu app store). In return, he said partners are displayed prominently in the localized version of the Cooliris app and can offer their users a slick photo-browsing and sharing experience.
Plus, many of these companies are interested in expanding to other geographies themselves, and are hoping that Cooliris can help.
“It’s a very mutual partnership,” Blum said.
As for making money, Bhumkar and Blum discussed plans to launch premium services in the next few months (following the aforementioned launch on Android and web). For as little as $4 a month, users will get access to additional features like video. Partners will be able to sell these plans to users and share the revenue, or they can pay Cooliris to offer the premium features for free (presumably for a limited trial period).
Bhumkar emphasized that “media is the monetization model”, not storage — although users can save photos that are shared in the app, they do so by plugging in to services like Google Drive.