Vizrea makes online media connections

Just when you’ve settled down with Web 2.0, along comes the upgrade version. Vizrea launches today in the UK, after a few months trial in the US, and promises to become the glue to bind all your blogs, podcasts, images, videos and everything else you want to share.

Vizrea works as an online hub where you organise where your media goes and who gets to see it. The simplest example is taking a snap on a mobile phone and sending it back to your Vizrea account. From here you might want it sent to your PC for archive purposes, published to your blog or social networking site and emailed and messaged to a select group of contacts’ phones, computers or other devices.

Vizrea is itself an online presence, and you can log in to your account to manage your media and decide what others can see and do when they visit your Vizrea space.

And to flip it round, you can also access media stored in that space from other devices. This can be accessing an image gallery from your mobile phone, or even streaming your digital music stored on your PC, up through the Vizrea gateway and straight on to your phone.

As well as this client-server set up, it also operates peer-to-peer, so content can also be sent directly to other devices as well as via a Vizrea server.

Currently, there is client software for PC and for Symbian Series 60-based mobile phones. The company is developing a version for Windows Mobile as well.

It’s unclear whether the business will develop into an acquisition target for the likes of Yahoo! et al by creating a massive userbase or aim just for profitability. Steve Toutonghi, VP of Product Management and Services told us: ‘As you might expect, we’ve filed for several patents around our core technology. With regard to funding, we closed an A round a while back with private investors that was north of $4.5mm. As for profitability and user adoption targets, we haven’t released any timelines.’

The service hopes to make money by charging for extra storage and for messaging mobile phones. right now, 100MB of space is free, as is mobile messaging for the first 60 days – so, if nothing else, it’s worth signing up to for two months of free SMS.

However, it’s still early days for the service and too early to gauge its success. Toutonghi told us: ‘activity on the site has been growing steadily and we expect that to continue to accelerate as the result of the stream of useful new features we’ve been rolling out and the continual refinements to what we already have’.

No doubt, pressure will increase to offer more storage for free. Webmail services such as Hotmail have always struggled to make people pay for online space, and with the advent of Google’s Gmail with 1GB of free space, the bar has been continually raised. Most recently AOL has said it will offer 5GB for free, and not just for email, but any kind of data, on its Xdrive platform. Vizrea offers a service on top of just online space, of course, but it is the storage space on which it is basing its premium paid-for service.

There are other things it is up against in terms of building a thriving online community. The people who will benefit from Vizrea will have already invested both time and emotion into existing blogs and social networking sites. These people will see Vizrea as a conduit – their loyalty is already established elsewhere. New users will be quicker to cozy up to Vizrea, but of course, they are less likely to need it if they don’t have a range of existing online activities that will benefit from adding a Vizrea ‘hub’.

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