By Jackson West
When he’s not busy having lunch with Microsoft multi-billionaire Bill Gates, Albert Lai is a passionate evangelist for his product, BubbleShare. The software, which allows you to quickly and easily create photo slide shows with voice and text notes and narration, is an easy sell. With a super-simple interface, it’s aimed squarely at the mainstream market. In fact, you don’t even have to register for an account to begin creating a slideshow, making for an incredible shallow adoption and learning curve for new users.
The product has been in beta for the last six months, but the development team has been working on it in stealth mode for at least two years. “We focused on building something that would help people radically simplify their sharing experience,” says Albert. “Our focus has been to target first time photo sharing users, with a particular focus on digital sharing (vs. printing) which is what most people are interested in.” He was equivocal that they weren’t trying to compete with services like Flickr. “Our focus has been on helping people tell their stories…simply.”
This approach, targeting novice users instead of mainstream users, has allowed the BubbleShare user base to grow quickly without any traditional marketing around the product. So far, all of the growth has been by word of mouth. While he wouldn’t disclose any numbers regarding their user base, he pointed to their Alexa ranking as a metric that reliably mirrors their own data in terms of reach and growth. He added that revenue models they’re considering include premium subscription services, advertising and partnerships. (For now there is nothing resembling a business model, right now, but then these are web 2.0 days, so who cares right ;-) – Om)
One feature that has caught the attention of the blogosphere is the zoom feature — simply click on a photo and a 3x zoom “magnifying glass” hovers over the photo. “Every friday afternoon, we let all our developers do wahtever they want to push the envelope…and that was one of the R&D projects.” When asked what other new features might be rolled out soon, he was coy, only saying that what’s released is just a subset of the functionality they’ve developed. And then he went ahead an released a new feature called Bubble Share that mimics Slide and Bubble Captions. The timing seems right for applications implementing Web 2.0 technologies to make the jump from the power user market into the mainstream, and BubbleShare seems well positioned to take advantage.
Jackson West is a San Francisco-based freelance writer.