Photosharing with Zooomr

Zooomr is a relatively new photosharing site, started by an 18-year old late last year (when he was 17 – boy I feel old), as a direct competitor to other photosharing sites, many of which aren’t that old themselves. It’s got all the catchy web2.0 features – a nice Ajax interface, the use of Lightbox for image loading effects, and the catchy “er” to “r” transformation. It also features geo-tagging, by way of integration with Google Maps, allowing you to show where the photo was taken. They recently opened their beta to the public, and began offering free Pro accounts to bloggers. Naturally, I had to give it a try.

My conundrum

I’ll have to admit, my willingness to try Zooomr was not only motivated by a curiousity for all that is cool things on the web, but also because I’ve been trying to find the right photosharing site for my needs. For the past little while, I’ve been using Flickr for my photosharing needs, but was approaching a sort of fork in the road – the basic free version is very limiting in terms of the number of photos and sets you can have active at any one time, which strikes me as somewhat unusual, considering the beta of Yahoo! Photos (the company that owns Flickr) offers unlimited uploading and storage, albeit without any sort of provisions for blogging. The Pro version of Flickr costs about $25 USD a year – which isn’t a lot, but being a student, I have reservations about paying for something that I’m not even sure I’m going to use to its full extent.

Zooomr to the rescue

Zooomr offers a free account that’s a bit less restrictive – no limit on storage, but a 50 MB monthly upload limit, which still beats Flickr’s 20 MB limit on free accounts. However, the free Pro account offer for Zooomr was what got me really interested – all you have to do is own a blog that you’ll be using Zooomr on (the main reason I was interested), and a Pro account is yours, for one year. This raises your monthly upload limit to a staggering 2.5 GB. I don’t think I’ll ever take that many photos in a month; heck, I don’t even think I have 2.5 GB of photos that I care about.

Trying it out, I’m very impressed. The feature set is basically everything that Flickr offers, and then some. In many ways, it’s a superset of Flickr in terms of features, and the interface is very “Flickr-ish”. In fact, I’m guessing many of the features were copied in order to ease the transition for Flickr users – after all, why bother to fix something that’s not broke?

This has the added benefit of targeting Flickr users for conversion, who are the main target of Zooomr. Let’s make no mistake – Zooomr’s directly competing with mainly Flickr in the photosharing arena. The type of people who like Flickr for its liberal support of web 2.0 features will also be impressed by Zooomr’s extensive and perhaps better support of the same features. As I mentioned before, these web 2.0 sites may not be popular outside of a certain niche of tech-saavy users, but within, they are all the rage – and these users are a hardcore group where news spreads fast. I wouldn’t be surprised if Zooomr were bought by an interested third party. After all, Flickr was bought for an estimated $30 million or more, so buying Zooomr before it’s big at a good deal may seem like a good decision.

Not so fast

One area that Zooomr loses out in is community. Flickr is loved by its users not only for its features, but also for its dedicated community, some of whom produce professional photos and are willing to help out newcomers with tips on picture taking and camera work. One need only look to see the great number of Pro users on Flickr, all of which have been willing to contribute money for access to the full features of Flickr. A paid service is most definitely the exception in today’s web 2.0 world, and it shows that Flickr was right on in targeting the right niche with their service. Even with its feature list, Zooomr does not yet have the level of community that Flickr does – but I say “not yet”, for I can see Zooomr growing quite fast in the next few months. Whether the community that develops at Zooomr is of the same level as that of Flickr’s, is another story.

Additionally, as of yet, there’s no downloadable tool for making photo uploads as easy as drag&drop, and you can only upload 10 photos at a time using the web-based form. (But I expect a drag&drop tool to come along)

Zooomr also has had some growing pains. The site seems slower than Flickr’s, and will only get slower as more users sign on, if they aren’t able to keep up with this accelerated growth rate.

I also have a few complaints about the site’s interface. It almost seemed as if they tried too hard to copy Flickr’s interface, and while I can understand this from a conversion point-of-view, it doesn’t make sense in some respects. For example, I didn’t like having to click “All sizes” in order to get the HTML needed to link to and display and image offsite. Zooomr kept this the same – again you have to click “All Sizes” to get to the HTML snippet. While this helps in keeping things consistent, sometimes you need to innovate.

However, they have added a bunch of neat things like photo trackbacks, allowing to see where your image has been linked from. I guess since it’s still in beta, (Flickr being in “gamma”) there will be continued improvements. The aforementioned trackbacks feature was apparently added within an hour of the idea being floated – one of the advantages of a small operation!

A parting note

Well, I can’t leave without showing off some Zooomr photos, now can I? Here’s one of the first I uploaded.

Sky over Gordon River at Sunset

It’s a picture of the sky over Temiscaming I took back in May, the last time I’d be there, calling it home.


  1. Hi there, thanks for taking the time to post about Zooomr!

    I wanted to personally let you know that the speed issues have been a problem in the past, but are actually tied to our templating engine named KID. In our testing, KID slows down by a factor of 3x the more markup you put into a template — it gets to become very slow indeed.

    So, that’s why I’ve internally launched project SilverScreen to move our templates over to ClearSilver, a templating engine built entirely in C — and boy is it ever so fast.

    And about the community stuff — you’re quite spot-on there. Thomas Hawk and I have been developing a complete community package for Zooomr these last few weeks, and when we push it to live, I think you’ll be pretty happy about it.

    Again, I appreciate the time you’ve spent in writing about Zooomr. It really means a lot to me as Zooomr’s developer.

    If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to write me.

    Best and more anon,

    Kristopher Tate
    cto & founder — bluebridge tech / zooomr

  2. Great to see you’ve been addressing these issues head-on; that’s one of the things I’ve noticed with Zooomr and your blog, you guys really seem to be dedicated to helping out even individual users – a great way to build “grassroots” support, and a good way to build a personable relationship with consumers. Traditional companies could learn a thing or two!

    I might have been a bit nitpicky in my original post, but I didn’t want to come across as being an evangelist for Zooomr – however, having said that, I understand the nature of growing pains, and from what I’ve seen (rapid, ongoing updates and improvements to the site, along with straightforwardness), I have no doubts that your team will be able to over come these issues. There’s a lot of “web 2.0” sites out there nowadays, but Zooomr is one that has actually me excited.

  3. I’m glad you’re excited, Peter. I try to be as dedicated as one can be. Sometimes you can’t get to everyone, but where there’s a will there’s a way.

    Thanks again,


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