Start-up geotags cellphone photos

NZ founders plan to shift company to New York

A picture may say a 1000 words but given the ridiculous number of images stored on mobile phones, computers and digital cameras, it is sometimes difficult to remember where a snap was taken, let alone the context. Geo-tagging is the obvious solution. The term refers to the process of place-stamping pictures taken by mobile phones or other devices with global positioning system (GPS) capability. A few of the big players, including Google and Flickr, already have the digital inscription business in hand but Kiwi start-up Snapr is hoping to put New Zealand on the social-media map with its home-grown version. Snapr is focused solely on the mobile market. That is where it hopes to have a point of difference, says Rowan Wernham, who founded the business last year with Edward Talbot. "What we want to do is pick up all those photos coming in off mobile phones and give them a home and really build up a location of social benefits for that," Wernham says. Snapr's geo-tagging application has been available free to iPhone users for some months but the accompanying website (where photos are pooled and catalogued on a map of the world with virtual pushpins) went live this month at sna.pr. Based on their early experiences, Wernham is hopeful. In its first month, a demo version of Snapr was downloaded more than 50,000 times through Apple's iTunes store. And for a brief time, it also rode the coveted Top 10 list of hot social networking applications. Long-term survival in the ever-evolving and highly competitive social-media realm will be tough, admits Wernham. He is planning a move to New York City, where he feels the company will be better able to establish a profile and build networks in the industry. Getting cozy with the competition may be ill-advised in some circles, but Werhnam sees it as strategic. An increasingly intertwined IT world also demands it. Snapr is already tied to Twitter, so users can upload their photos to the site as well. Facebook is next. Prior to the launch, Snapr had a pool of about 100,000 mobile photos on its website with coverage from around the world. They ranged from celebrity sightings to sunsets. As a self-moderating system, users can knock out offensive material. "We've been interested to see that self-moderation works. People get the idea that it is not the place to put dirty photos, spam and other stuff," Wernham says. More than a PG13 global photo album for virtual voyeurs, Wernham sees Snapr as a potential tool for social engagement. "There is so much potential for sharing photos and location, just in terms of meeting up with people. It is a natural evolution of texting and pxting," he says. How you leverage that into a profitable company is another matter. Those who watch the space will ultimately dictate it.

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Tags edward talbotgeotaggingrowan wernhamsnapr

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