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HP goes web 2.0, buys Tabblo

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Now this is one Web 2.0 acquisition that makes sense! Hewlett-Packard has acquired Tabblo, Massachusetts-based company that makes it easier for consumers to upload and printing their photos from the web. Think of Tabblo as iPhoto rest of us – allowing folks to print their photos as calendars or albums, layered with all sorts of social web features.

It was only in May 2006, I was introduced to Tabblo founder Antonio Rodriguez by Jason Shellen, formerly of Blogger/Pyra Labs and then with Google. Ten months later his start=up has been acquired for undisclosed amount of money. Why did that happen? They made a tool that incorporated the best of social web and built a layer of usefulness on top of that. And focused their product on mainstream users, with one simple message: make your photo printing cool and chic.

It makes perfect sense for HP to acquire them because first, it gives a good strategic fit with printer business, the bread (if not the butter) for the computer maker. Secondly, HP owns, another photo site, which could use some of Tabblo’s sensibilities, and can also get more people printing their photos.

HP is a bit more ambitious with this deal, and it seems, wants to get into the on-demand printing business. There are quite a few start-ups in this space, that should be worried. I mean seriously worried. A spokesperson emailed us with this information:

HP’s plans are to bring the technologies developed by Tabblo in-house, and use them to make it easier for customers to seamlessly manipulate, format and print the Web-based content that’s important to them in the real world. Fundamentally, Tabblo’s server-based technology makes arranging and printing text, graphics and photos from the Web easy and compelling. Tabblo uses a custom template engine, utilizing an AJAX-enriched interface, to manipulate and reformat Web content for easy printing.

While today Tabblo has been focused on using its publishing technology in the photography arena, HP plans to repurpose this technology asset with its partners to enable printing for all types of content across the Web. This goes beyond photo printing to include Web content of many kinds, including personalized maps, travel guides, books and posters to auto shopping guides and social networks, etc.

19 Responses to “HP goes web 2.0, buys Tabblo”

  1. “The price tag was rumored to be around $800 million.” I found this post via Google and interestingly, this text was in the Google excerpt but is no longer in the post itself.

  2. “Hey the difference between Snapfish and Tabblo is the difference between a 1970 chevy and a new Hondo.”

    So true, Om. I’m an avid flickr user, but Snapfish was my direct path to Tabblo. I’ve used it a lot, and it has the potential to offer Snapfish’s private photo-sharing as well as flickr’s community.

    I write “has the potential” because Tabblo is struggling with how to integrate both sets of principles, leading to two major drawbacks:

    1)Steep learning curve both conceptually – what a tabblo is – and in usability. Snapfish takes two seconds to learn, but it’s overly simple. Tabblo gives much more, but even an advanced user like myself has had to spend hours learning. It’s more like flickr in that sense.

    2) Privacy management is unclear: I set everything to private but my account and photos (not tabblos) can be accessed by a Google search. That alone makes me want to return to Snapfish.

    My understanding from a talk by Antonio Rodriguez is that Tabblo emerged from his work creating photo-printing services that other companies could brand. Will Tabblo retain its own brand identity, or will it become an HP thing? And will it continue to be something between Snapfish and flickr, or will it achieve an identity as something far better than either or both?

    I love what they’ve done so far, so I look forward to seeing how they develop.

  3. BlogReader

    Why does HP need to buy another site that does pretty much the same thing as snapfish? I suppose if you’re in a hole you can continue to keep on digging.

  4. Tabblo is a very cool company with a great product. They’ve got Flickr-like community, they blogged critically about Yahoo while sponsoring Techmeme and I’ll tell you – I often show off the Tabblo of the kids in my family to people who visit my house. Naysers called them an also-ran but they deserve a big congrats today.