Fix Your Photos on the Web

SAN FRANCISCO (04/03/2000) - The Internet makes sharing your photos easier, but what about editing them? Once you've uploaded an image, you often can't improve it.

PictureIQ hopes to change all that with its Internet imaging service. Launching Monday, the service helps Web sites offer tools for cleaning up photos and turning them into gift items or greeting cards. Photo-related Web sites Jside.com, Ofoto Inc., and Zing will add it in the coming weeks, but you can test PictureIQ now at the company's site. And photo collection site Corbis already offers a customized version.

We're Not All Pros

"Most consumers' pictures aren't wonderful right out of the camera," says Bill McCoy, chief executive officer of PictureIQ. "Our imaging toolbar lets visitors to sites enhance and create things with their pictures without having to install software," he adds.

PictureIQ tools let you rotate, crop, and clean up your pictures. An Autofix button offers one-click editing as well as lighting and reorientation tools.

Beyond editing, PictureIQ provides creativity controls that let you warp your photo or make it look like a painting, and then place it on a greeting card or mug.

"Unlike most applications, we show you what your image looks like within the card," McCoy says. "You don't have to download the picture again and remanipulate it."

Only PictureIQ.com is currently live with the full service. There you can upload your photos, edit them, and e-mail them, McCoy says. (Corbis's customized version of PictureIQ lets you create gifts with its photograph collection.)Desktop vs. WebWith free photo-editing software already available from Adobe, Club Photo, and many others, are Web-based editing tools necessary? PictureIQ thinks so.

Advanced users may want to enhance photos locally before uploading, McCoy says.

But consumers want to get their photos online quickly, and they often realize afterwards that they forgot to rotate or crop, he adds.

Photo-finishing site Ofoto.com offers desktop software for editing and uploading. It is adding PictureIQ so you can optimize your photo before printing.

Some analysts also see a need for Web-based photo tools.

Server-based tools make sense when you're editing someone else's photo, says Alexis Gerard, publisher of The Future Image Report. After you upload an image, your cousin can crop it differently, he says.

Online Photo Flood

In 1999 there were 2.8 million online photo community members, according to InfoTrends Research Group. By 2003, photo sites will attract more than 135 million visitors.

As the Web becomes a key infrastructure for images, photo enhancement tools will become a requirement, Gerard says. "Wherever you can look at and store images, you'll be able to do basic enhancements." And PictureIQ makes this simple, he says.

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