Cloud storage and stream-back provider StreamNation has acquired PictureLife, a New York-based startup specializing in online photo storage, for an undisclosed amount.
StreamNation CEO Jonathan Benayassa announced the deal in an email to subscribers and media Thursday morning.
The idea behind StreamNation is to go beyond cloud-based, file-sharing offerings like Dropbox, from which users must download photo and video files before viewing them, and enable users to stream video and other media files directly from remote storage. It also allows users to share their files easily with friends; the company recently added a feature that enables users to automatically add content from other accounts--Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), Dropbox, Lightroom and Picasa among them--to their StreamNation account.
StreamNation already has a photo-storage element on its service, Shutter. Benayassa said that there are no short-term plans to change or remove Shutter, but the company is thinking about "next steps" for both services.
Meantime, integrating PictureLife into the company's service will take a bit of time. "We host our own servers while PictureLife is on Amazon cloud," Benayassa said in the announcement, explaining that the company's first priority is to merge the two platforms. After that it will deploy a single sign-in process for both accounts before completely integrating PictureLife into its infrastructure.
Like Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iCloud, StreamNation users get a limited amount of storage space for free (20 GB currently), and can pay for more storage capacity. PictureLife works in a similar manner.
Smaller online media providers like StreamNation have their work cut out for them, which partly explains the company's decision to add a second photo storage provider to its offerings. StreamNation services are similar to those provided by UltraViolet, the "digital locker" initiative launched in 2011 by a coalition of media and entertainment companies including Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA). That effort, to provide licensed digital content in a DRM-friendly environment, has sputtered along so far, crossing the 20 million user account mark in December and working with 13 content suppliers and 17 retail partners worldwide.
With both consumers and major media companies still less-than-thrilled with UltraViolet--for different reasons--there's room for niche companies like StreamNation to meet consumer demand for more convenient ways to share their content.
Further, competitors are starting to step into the segment: For example, a new startup called Wavelength takes advantage of UltraViolet's sharing arrangement--account holders can share their content with up to six family members--and enables them to share that content with anyone they choose. Wavelength's service is currently free.
There's an element of risk involved in StreamNation's sharing capabilities; after all, users are allowing their copy of a movie or TV show to be streamed by designated friends and family, something Hollywood industries would rather control. However, in its first year of existence, the industry has not gone after StreamNation to the degree that, say, broadcasters pursued linear TV-streaming service Aereo for copyright infringement.
- see this letter from StreamNation
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