Sunday, July 26, 2015

Naver Japan to end Photo Sharing Service Pick

In a startling turn of events, Social photo sharing platform Pick from Naver is closing down at the end of August, 2015. No word was given on its official blog, but users were told to back up their photos before the service shuts. 

Pick is very similar to Instagram except that you could post from desktop PCs to the social site. Initially launched as a supporting service to its Naver Line service, it failed to gain a place in the eyes of advertisers and had to be dumped. 

Social sharing of mobile photos isn't new even though Instagram was highly valued. There are loads of others that failed to gain the user base needed to grow and only a few competitors remain. EyeEm, Pheed, and even Mobli are just a handful that have survived thus far and it remains to be seen if another instagram like clone would be able to niche itself in the highly competitive and vapourous market for social media. 

Naver, the holding company of Line, failed to meet profit expectations and is facing increasing pressure from rivals such as KakaoTalk and WeChat in Asia. So far, Naver Line has been a conduit of sorts for gaming, allowing users to play freemium games and roughly 60 percent of its entire revenue comes from gaming related apps for mobile. 

Why Photo Sharing is a Hard Sell

Over the years, several photo sharing services have bitten the dust and with fickle users migrating to the most successful platform such as Instagram, it doesn't quite make sense to go out and compete at the same level. 

Pick was unique as it had a PC browser platform, allowing people to upload and reply to comments as opposed to one that is strictly mobile, but that wasn't a selling point. 

In terms of adverts, Pick didn't seem to pick up the sort of advertiser interest as its parent company concentrated only in markets in Asia. Their reach was not exploited as global advertisers were not advancing to their key markets in Japan and Korea. 

I have been a member of Pick for over 3 years and experienced the decline of the service. The chief problem was that it grew too fast and did not evolve with users. Instead, it concentrated on rolling out the same service to more countries, diluting its market focus to gain overall user numbers. 

The photo sharing platform was a hit with Japanese users who didn't quite understand the straight laced Instagram service. Instead, Naver built Pick to accommodate the Kawaii culture of the Japanese by adding fanciful stickers, borders and effects to gain traction. 

Photo sharing platforms must find a way to monetize as a means to gain revenue. This is a given norm. Unlike Yahoo, which is a content related corporation, it's Flickr service is a means to maintain eyeballs to Yahoo related news and services which in turn generate revenue for the company. 

In Europe, EyeEm has established itself as a photo sharing and stock image agency beyond offering its photo sharing platform to the masses while Mobli is the de facto champion for users in Latin America. 

Naver has tried to make a success out of its cloud services, and stand alone messengers but those failed to take off. Pick will be the next on the chopping board as Naver struggles to find other innovative niches to dominate. 


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