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Summary:

Cooliris, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based startup that makes a browser plug-in for sifting through large amounts of videos and photos on the web using a 3-D interface, is set to release a major new version of its software later this week. The new software (version 1.10) […]

cooliris-wallCooliris, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based startup that makes a browser plug-in for sifting through large amounts of videos and photos on the web using a 3-D interface, is set to release a major new version of its software later this week. The new software (version 1.10) adds the ability to seek out photos and videos on your computer’s local drive and display them in 3-D in your browser. It is an immensely useful improvement to the plug-in formerly known as Piclens. That’s a useful change, because the sheer number of photos and videos on our computers is growing at a rapid clip, thanks to high quality camera phones and digital cameras. According to Camera and Imaging Products Association (CIPA), a trade group, about 119 million digital cameras were sold in 2008, and roughly the same number will be sold in 2009. Nearly half a billion phones with built-in cameras were sold in 2008.

These easy-to-use cameras have made us all shutterbugs — and many of us are often uploading photos directly to Facebook, currently the largest photo repository on the web. Recognizing that, the new version of the plug-in has added support for Facebook, as well.

There are some under-the-hood improvements, too: it collects and displays more metadata, which increases the overall performance of the plug-in. We here at GigaOM are big fans of many such 3-D Internet technologies, because both Stacey and I think that the explosion of information online screams for new kinds of user experiences, especially for visual objects.

Last week, Austin Shoemaker, co-founder and CTO, and Chief Revenue Officer Shashi Seth stopped by our offices to demo the new version of their browser plug-in, and I was suitably impressed. I’m not the only one, either:

  • It has been downloaded about 10 million times, and there are 3 million daily active users.
  • The iPhone version of the software has been download 800,000 times and boasts 300,000 daily active users.
  • The web version of the software is downloaded nearly 50,000 times a day.

When I met with the company last year, it had about 2.3 million active users with 30,000 to 50,000 downloads per day. At the time, the company had started dabbling in creating special shopping channels, experimenting with Amazon. It has since added more retail partners, which pay a 5-8 percent referral fee to Cooliris. I bet that comes in handy in these days of advertising recession.

Related Post: Can browser plug-ins be a business?

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By Om Malik

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  1. 30% usage rate after download. Not sure that’s too strong a sign.

  2. Cooliris fills a huge void is consuming images (and videos) online. Experience Matters; and the “thumbnail grid to slideshow” experience offered by most sites universally, just doesn’t qualify as entertainment.

    It was about time that someone challenged the standard interaction paradigm and designed something remarkable, and seeing from the usage and growth, they are clearly on their way to nailing it.

    Kudos to the founders for sticking to the vision, the team for executing it so well and most importantly to their investors in believing the story.

    With the revenue pilots they’ve begun and will continue to play around with, this company has all the right ingredients of winner.

  3. I downloaded the app and have used it in-browser and find it pretty hard to use. Its too fancy to do the simple job it does.

  4. I think it’s a great visualisation. It’s my favourite way to catch up on my flickr contacts’ photos.

    Now, if they hooked up something that used the iSight cam to control navigation, a lá FluidTunes, I’d be happy.

  5. Dear Om

    Clearly this is amongst the best visual browsing experiences you can get, although they could make it much better by offering some customizations. The current three tier 3D wall sounds a bit like the Ford Model T. But I can still live with it. I do have a couple of questions though.

    1. What is the business model of cooliris? Do they expect any revenues [post recession ad spends :-) ] or do they plan “buy” versions or “(non PC) device versions” …

    2. Do we know if cooliris would run on devices other than iPhones (incl. netbooks, IP STBs, ..)? In other words, what hardware does this require?

    Cheers
    Vinay

  6. Why can’t I get cooliris for my MY TOUCH 3G phone. Please let me know and when. Thank you. Osman.

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