Skip to comments.*Fading photos* Photopoint comes up blank, frustrating digital camera users
Posted on 01/05/2002 9:47:05 PM PST by Registered
|By Lisa Napoli
|Jan. 4 Richard Unten, a college student in Irvine, California, has friends all over the state and family in Hawaii. His Web site is a centralized virtual space where all the people in his life can see his pictures. Or, rather, could. The company that hosts his digital photo album disappeared just before the holidays.|
|| IF YOU TYPE the words photo hosting into the Yahoo search engine, Photopoint is the third listing that comes up. But if you try to access the site, you get nothing. Calls and e-mails to published contacts associated with the business have either not been returned, or have bounced back as undeliverable.
Industry analysts say the service boasted around 1.5 million members, including Richard Unten, who paid $20 a year to store their photos online.
As a paying member to the photo hosting service, I have no idea if Photopoint.com still exists. It seems that no one knows. Pantellic Software, the owners of Photopoint, doesnt even have a statement available to the public, let alone its paying customers, about the future of the service, Unten said in an e-mail interview.
Frustrated Photopoint customers experienced a similar blackout in service in July. Servers were dark and links were dead for about a week then. The explanation was that Photopoint was being acquired by Pantellic, the Nova Scotia-based company that had created the service in the first place. After the blackout, users got an e-mail from Dale Gass, Pantellics chief executive. It said, in part:
"I would like to apologize for any uncertainty that our members may have experienced during the transition of ownership. Your photos, albums, and memberships were never at any risk of loss. The safety and integrity of our members photos has always been, and will continue to be, our number one priority. We understand how important your photos are to you.
| Unten and others buzzing on Internet digital photography news groups take this as an empty claim, as their friends click on links that yield no pictures. Some Photopoint users used the service to house pictures for merchandise they were selling on eBay, making for not just an inconvenience but an economic wrinkle to the mystery for some.
In an attempt to vent and find some answers, many of these users have been calling and writing to EzPrints.com, an online service that makes prints from digital photographs which a partnership with Photopoint.
Jamie Bardin, chief executive of EZPrints, said he had no answers for them. One panicked user told him every photo hed taken of his toddler was stored on Photopoint.
|| The larger issue is the transitioning business of digital photography. There are still not enough people shooting digital, Bardin said, although this past Christmas, digital camera sales made up 20 percent of all camera sales.
Were still probably three, four years away from where digital cameras will outsell film. When you start to see that, thats when this industry will start to take off, Bardin said.
And as with most things related to the Internet, there is strange post dot-com boom math involved. As the online photo industry takes off and matures, the number of players in the field decreases.
Whitney Brown, a spokeswoman for Shutterfly, a competitor of Photopoint, explained. At one point there were 300 companies that did bits and parts of online photo processing, she said, as eager entrepreneurs tried to hedge their bets and create new online businesses. Many of them didnt charge for services, in an attempt to create a buzz and online traffic and found, as Photopoint did, that giving away services for free did not a business make. (They later started charging a fee.)
Says Brown, The lunacy of those days has passed.
The lunacy has given way to mergers of smaller companies and acquisitions by late-to-the-digital-game industry players like Kodak, which purchased a Shutterfly competitor, Ofoto, last year.
Now, consumers can more readily find photo processing services under one virtual roof from the hosting of digital photos to the printing of hard copies to the transformation of a favorite snap into a t-shirt.
That still doesnt explain what happened to Photopoint, which Brown says her company has attempted to reach since its disappearance, with an eye toward picking up customers who were left in the dark. Shes had no success, either. (Neither has Ofoto, said James Joaquin, the companys president.)
Epson, another of Photopoints partners, makes a cryptic reference to the sites disappearance on its pages, saying that its taking photo hosting services in-house and that user photos wont be available until Jan. 10.
For many, its the digital age equivalent of the local dry cleaners closing its doors with your clothing padlocked inside.
I would be panicked if I was a consumer, said Brown of Shutterfly. Its unfortunate.
Of course, even your number one priority is meaningless if you go out of business.
Well, on the one hand, I'm ahead of my time.
On the other hand, I've been had.
Maybe some day some nice, kind person will tell me how to upload my pictures to my Road Runner web site (she sez, in her best Blanche DeBuis accent.)
"I've always depended on the kindness of strangers."
Then again, there's always Photoisland.com.
What a maroon.
Has it occurred to anybody besides me that paper is as close to permanent as we know it for photographic purposes but digital is is only as good as the technological standard? When was the last time anybody broke out their Super 8 movie projector? That was 25 years ago. How many people still have turntables that work? RLL hard drives and first generation IDE went away 10 years ago. People act like computers have been around forever when I remember multitasking with Desqview under DOS 3.1 and Windoze is effectively a whole 8 years old. Anybody wanna guess on how long current digital storage technology lasts?
I store my images on my hard disk and a Zip disk as well. Hope to get them on a CDRW someday.
Stay Safe !
Stay Safe !
PhotoPoint.com, a popular but troubled picture-sharing Web site, has been offline for a week. Parent company Pantellic Software's Web site also is down, and this week, Pantellic took Epson's PhotoCenter site down with it.
PhotoPoint went out of business in July and was acquired by Pantellic - a company that builds online photo services for businesses and was the original creator of PhotoPoint. Pantellic purchased PhotoPoint from Sherwood Partners, a crisis management firm that was liquidating PhotoPoint's assets.
Neither company could be reached for comment on this story.
Keith Kratzberg, the director of photo imaging at Epson, said his company launched its PhotoCenter in April, with PhotoPoint as its third-party vendor "powering" the site. Because of PhotoPoint's troubles, Epson switched to Pantellic in July, he said.
Even before Pantellic went dark last Friday, Epson was preparing for the eventuality that it would have to take its photo-sharing site in-house, he said. On Wednesday, Epson decided to turn off the site in order to preserve the photos customers already had stored.
"With a site like this, you hate to go dark for any period," said Kratzberg. "We were prepared to go in-house, but it happened more suddenly than expected. But when we could see that Pantellic could no longer support our site, it was more important to keep our members' photo albums intact, rather than try to maximize the time we were up."
The people who paid money to put their images online are upset with PhotoPoint for disappearing without a trace. Many of these former customers vented their ire on the F--kedcompany site this week.
An individual posting under the handle, "wddbear," wrote, "I have over 950 photos stored there, and they better find a way for me to get them. I paid for a full year and some of those pictures cannot be replaced. I smell a lawsuit coming."
Another customer, "gladIpaid," wrote, "Glad I just paid for more space. Goodbye $60.00. No notice, no replies to customer concerns, no information for paying customers, no parent site - not even a splashpage telling us we're f--ked."
In a later post, "gladIpaid" added, "Well, although I do have copies of all my photos, when I think about the hours that went into photoshopping them and all the caption information I lost, it makes me mad."
Wendell Evans, a freelance journalist based in Philadelphia, Pa., and a former PhotoPoint customer, told Newsbytes the loss of caption information is the most galling part of the situation to him.
Evans said he had about 350 photos, letters and newspaper clips on the PhotoPoint system. He is preparing a book on his family's migration across the United States dating back several generations. Through his research, he has discovered 500 living relatives, and gathered numerous pictures and documents.
"PhotoPoint was a gathering point, a way to involve all those people," said Evans. "Now, all of those images have vanished into the ether for all I know. It is not so much a loss of money, but it is a loss of convenience and time."
Evans said he will have to re-upload 350 items, and recreate the descriptions.
"The biggest problem is the captions. They only existed on the PhotoPoint Web site," he said. "I have the information, but I will have to go back through my notes and reunite each photo with the notes. That is a huge loss of time. I am not back to square one, but I am back to square four."
One F--kedcompany poster who identified him or herself as "Tannis" and said he or she was a former PhotoPoint employee, defended the company. Tannis wrote, "businesses succeed, businesses fail, businesses face challenges that most customers never have the opportunity to grasp the concept of just exactly what went wrong."
"I am confident that if at all possible, PhotoPoint will be back online, and if not, they will make every attempt possible to ensure their users get the opportunity to (retrieve) their photos," Tannis added.
Even if that turns out to be true, Evans said he still is upset about the way the company handled things.
"It is incredible. I am really annoyed they disappeared without an e-mail or anything," he said. "They could have told us, 'hey, the business didn't work.' It is the deception that bothers me. They don't even return phone calls. They belong in the cybersleaze hall of fame."
Photopoint.com used to be at http://www.photopoint.com .
Pantellic Software used to be at http://www.pantellic.com .
I'm sure there are cheaper server hosts than my $15.00 service per month. You just have to do some research to find them. I paid a bit more to have the reliability of backups and tech support.
All pictures I had linked on FR were stored there.
They took my money and ran. I will check out Shutterfly.
Frankly, I'm surprised that anyone would be stupid enough to not have a copies of important photos stored locally.
I can see using resources like Photopoint as an online "showcase", but anyone was using it as their only source of storage is an idiot.
My new puter came with a burner and it's great for storing photos.
An 800mb cd will hold around 400 photos.
My Nikon digital camera easily and quickly loads photos straight to cd.
As far as durability, I have 10 year old music cd's that still work.
By the way FREEPERS just what is the BEST photo hosting site?
Now that I have XP and it seems to be willing to do just about everything for me with photos (love that new pic of W's portrait I have hanging on my wall!) I may join the ranks of REAL band width users around here.
What kind of idiot puts the only copies of his digital photos on a server over which he has no control?
I had a ton of pictures at photopoint but kept copies of all of them burned on CD's. Luckily for me I have access to several web servers and plenty of drive space as alternative web storing sites. But hey $20 a year, you gets what you pay for in life.
The best I found was www.hostsave.com
No set up fee
60 MB storage
I did a net searching on them. They got good reports.
I signed up, got my domain transfered and new domanin name web site and email operational in 24 hours.
The old host still has not been able recover most of the web sites they bought. If you want to know who NOT to buy from, send me an FR Email.
It meant having to re-do my profile page and I still have to re-do some of the last page of my homepage and change the address for my photo albums.
Uncle Geogre, it was awful. All the USO Canteen threads I did , the graphics are gone from the old threads whereever I posted things.
Oh well, it is not life and death, just tons of work getting another place, and reloading all the graphics and pictures to it.Plus the money I paid photopoint for a year is gone.
They must be liberals that ran it....no honor.
Soooooo good to see you !!!
(((((((((( HUG )))))))))))