Zing Hopes Photo Portal Will Develop Quickly
Page 1 of 1
So you think your kids, dog, garden or home are the cutest, most photogenic, beautiful or spectacular on the planet? Then Zing is the place to put up or shut up.
Billing itself as the Internet's first "photography portal community," Zing has raised more than $17 million -- $14 million of that just last week -- in a bid to establish an Amazon-like market presence in the next six months. This second round was lead by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and included Bass family fund Arbor Investors and Alloy Ventures which invested in the first round.
But even with the big check from the big VCs and the exaggeration about being first, Zing has its work cut out for it in a nascent market with some fairly formidable competition led by PhotoPoint, publicly traded PhotoLoft (LOFT), Club Photo and others.
Despite Zing's PR spin and PhotoLoft's claim to being number one, analyst Michelle Lampmann of Boston-based InfoTrends said there is "no clear leader" in this market. The benchmarks, however, look slanted in Zing's favor.
Zing and its competition offer free online space for its members to upload photos which can be shared with others or kept private for friends and family. Zing also offers software to arrange images into slide shows, screen savers, greeting cards (that can be sent electronically or printed out for an extra fee), guestbooks, discussion boards and the ability (for a fee) to have images applied to tee shirts, mugs, holiday ornaments, calendars and even cookies and cakes with edible photo icing. While Zing's competitors offer some of these same features, none so far has its breadth and depth.
Lampmann said the explosive growth of online photo communities is being driven by the adoption of digital cameras and by the availability of film-to-CD processing options offered by Kodak. The digital camera market, she said, is about 12 percent, representing some 1.8 million units in projected 1999 sales versus 15 million film cameras. Film camera sales are expected to remain flat at their 1999 level while digital sales should hit about 6 million units by 2003.
Zing is approaching its business (as are its competitors) with multiple profit models including advertising, e-mail direct offers to members, site sponsorship and e-tailing services and products.
The image of this market is still unfocused as Zing and its competition gear up for a market which should more fully develop over the next 12 months. But as the saying goes, there are no negatives with digital photography.
Introducing Internet StockTracker, the new weekly e-mail newsletter from internet.com Corp. Every Friday internet.com will deliver to your e-mail in-box the latest performance data on individual Internet companies and their competitors. Internet StockTracker will deliver to you all the statistics you need to assess the week's activity. Subscribe today and receive the Charter Rate of $157 -- a savings of $70 off the regular subscription price! e-newsletters