Mobypicture may be one of the few startups in the world headquartered on an Amsterdam houseboat but it is one of many jostling for position in the crowded world of mobile image/video/audio sharing services.The company is one of several Dutch startups (eBuddy, My name is e, IRLconnect, Nimbuzz) on the Europas shortlist and is currently planning an aggressive expansion into the UK and German markets.
Unlike the current leader of the pack, Twitpic (over 1 million unique users), Mobypicture is not just about Twitter and not just about images. It supports audio, video and images which can be simultaneously shared with 18 different blogging (WordPress, Blogger), microblogging (Twitter, Brightkite), media (Youtube, Flickr) and social networking (Facebook) sites. The service is also integrated into many 3rdparty applications. In fact, Mobypicture is closer in terms of features to services like Tweetphoto or Pikchur than to Twitpic.
Groups receive particular attention. Content can be hashtagged or geotagged, thereby automatically being added to a group.This makes Mobypicture’s service particularly useful for events. Another feature called the backchannel provides a rolling update of Twitter updates and photos related to a particular tag and can be used by companies or events to track mentions. Since the introduction of the iPhone 3GS, there has also been a jump in audio content being shared on the site, e.g. 1-question interviews with the cast of Heroes.
Mobypicture’s business model involves a combination of premium services like directing content to some sites but not others, whitelabeling the platform for direct marketing purposes (e.g. a photo competition of photos featuring a particular product) and partnerships with niche publishers who will pay to be added to the roster of sites with which content can be shared.
Currently Mobypicture has around 100,000 users, 60% of which are from the Netherlands. The big issue is how it can expand beyond the Dutch market and compete with the bigger players like Twitpic. The features are certainly there as are some great promotional materials but we all know that great technology doesn’t automatically lead to great popularity. Mobypicture is banking on a combination of supporting niche sites (65% of their users post to Twitter, 35% to other services) to create stickiness and getting the right people to use the service. For example, the Traveling Geeks will be using Mobypicture for content distribution during their European tour.
CEO Mathys van Abbe has one simple rule when it comes to creating Internet products (Mobypicture is just one of his ventures). Make something which is useful even if there is only one user. Mobypicture satisfies that criterion but it’s still more fun to be part of a crowd.