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Photo and video-sharing site Twango has alerted its members that within the next week they will implement a new copyright protection system for the files uploaded and shared within the Twango network. Nokia acquired Twango last July and since they we haven’t heard much from Twango. Not only will they enforce this new policy on new uploads, they will also scan the current system.
Could computer-powered image and video detection software Keibi be their partner on this new copyright enforcement?
Here is the message they sent to members today:
Sharing personal content is at the core of what Twango is all about. From inception, Twango has been focused on our members’ sharing needs. We respect the copyrights of amateurs and professionals that post content on the service. One way we can continue to keep the community focused on real media from real people is to make sure copyrighted material is not uploaded without the consent of the owner. Over the next few days we will be implementing an automated system which will identify and remove copyrighted commercial content. You may notice some existing content will no longer be available. Accounts affected will receive an explanatory note in their inbox. This automated system will remain in place to identify copyrighted media and notify members if their uploads are affected. This process will take place in parallel to the upload to ensure upload speeds will not be impacted.
Thank you for using Twango for your personal media sharing needs.
Nokia and Twango have announced that Nokia has acquired the assets of Twango. The price of the transaction is undisclosed but the WSJ believes it was less than $96 million. Twango is a place to share and save your photos, videos and audio files. We reviewed Twango back in January and the service has continued to grow since launch. I was impressed with co-founder Randy Kerr’s business acumen in January and I am just as impressed in my acquisition discussion with him today.
A bit from the official release:
"The Twango acquisition is a concrete step towards our Internet services vision of providing seamless access to information, entertainment, and social networks – at anytime, anywhere, from any connected device, in any way that you choose. We have the most complete suite of connected multimedia experiences including music, navigation, games, and – with the Twango acquisition – photos, videos, and a variety of document types," said Anssi Vanjoki, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Multimedia, Nokia. "When you combine a Nokia Nseries multimedia computer that is always on, always connected, and always with you together with a rich media sharing destination like Twango, people will have exciting new ways to create and enjoy rich media experiences in real time."
I had a chance to briefly speak with Randy about the transaction and here are my notes:
- The company does not share membership numbers but he said they have "sufficient numbers" to make the deal work.
- The official release states "Nokia acquired substantially all of Twango’s assets" – this means it’s an asset purchase.
- I asked about iPhone compatibility with Twango and Randy said that the app works great on the iPhone, in fact using the Safari browser, all of Twango is available.
- Revenue models info? Randy said they will continue to offer a free service and are looking into ad models and premium subscriptions.
- Who are Twango’s competitors? I was pretty sure I would hear the usual suspects but Randy surprised me by saying that Apple and Google are their biggest competitors. Apple with the iPhone and Google with their suite of social-sharing services.
- They are hiring in Seattle and the job information will be posted on Tuesday on Twango’s web site. They have 12 employees today, 6 new Nokia staff are joining the team and their goal is to double the headcount by year’s end.
- The Twango name will remain for now and will be a service of Nokia.
Congrats to the Twango team and to Nokia for getting a great service. It will be interesting to watch where Twango goes now with a large company with deep pockets behind them.
Earlier this week I had a chance to meet with Randy Kerr. Randy is the co-founder of Twango, a place to share and save your photos, videos and audio files. Twango is a lot more than just your average sharing site.
My first reaction is that Twango is designed very well and the usability is top notch and is stronger than Flickr or YouTube. It’s smooth and they really have polished the edges whereas I feel like Flickr is missing that polish. It is rare that I review a site that has such a welcoming design.
The full launch was in October 2006 and they are reporting a 50% month-over-month growth in membership. The Twango tagline is, “Many Ways In, Many Ways Out” and what they essentially mean is that you can put in files by email, camera phone, webcam or pc/mac and you can share your files via RSS, iTunes, blogs, social networks, etc. They support more than 100 formats including pdf, Microsoft Office, etc.
I think Twango works well for the mainstream user. While I doubt my mother could easily navigate through Flickr, she could navigate through Twango. For example they use the term keywords instead of tags. In fact, I have already setup a channel for her so she can see the files I want her to see. Channels are a way to share files across different mediums. You can put images, videos, pdf, documents into a channel and then setup security for that channel. You can also make the channel public for anyone to view.
There is a mobile site and Randy let me know that this is an area they plan to work on heavily throughout 2007.
The question I had for Randy was about how they plan to monetize the app. They are self-funded and are founded by five ex-Microsoft employees. They currently sell photos and other products from the photos you upload. They are looking at offering a premium service which will have a larger upload allowance and no advertising. The free account will have some advertising in the near future.
My concern with Twango is whether they will be able to sustain their growth rate into 2007 and more importantly will they be able to compete with the marketing machines that are Google and Yahoo!. Clearly YouTube can outspend almost anyone and I am pretty sure YouTube will use the P&G way of beating the competition… that is outspend vs. innovate.
If you haven’t tried Twango, I suggest you give it a try. I am not sure it will replace YouTube or Flickr for the techie set but is a nice complement and might work for your non-tech friends and family.