You know how sometimes you read a review of some new hotness of some sort and the review is so glowing you find yourself dismissing it as mere fantasy? “Surely nothing in the world is that fantastic”, you find yourself saying.
Well, brace yourself; I’m about to lay down the glowing review.
If you’ve not yet discovered picnik.com, plan to spend some time this weekend. Picnik is a web service that allows you to grab images from photo sharing sites like flickr, or straight off your hard drive and apply basic photo editing features (red-eye removal, cropping, rotating, etc), effects (black&white, Holga-ish, Nightvision, etc), and then save it back to your hard drive or photo sharing site.
The site is built in Flash, and before you say it, yes it doesn’t suck because of it. It’s absolutely the best Flash based interface I’ve ever seen. Works exactly like it should, it’s fast, completely solid. Walt Mossberg says: “Picnik has a beautiful and responsive user interface that worked perfectly on the multiple Windows and Macintosh computers I used to test it.”
By now you’re probably thinking: “A Web service couldn’t possibly do what my lovely copy of Photoshop can do”. Yes and no. Check out some of the examples below that I’ve used Picnik to create. Incredible stuff. Sure it’s not quite as “perfect” as Photoshop, but the only people who would notice that are the other people who use Photoshop… not exactly my photographic target audience. (Mine is more my friends and family; people who don’t know what Photoshop even is)
Picnik has reached a 1.0 launch after giving a free, full beta preview while they developed. I discovered last night that they have plugins for Firefox (and IE, but blech) that allow you to grab photos and screenshots with a right-click and send them straight to Picnik.com to edit. Wow.
Between the great design, the intelligence of their rollout to a freemium model launch (show me the features, let me get all pumped, then add the paid requirement), and their openness to share what they’re up to, Picnik has to be one of the best web service launches I’ve seen to date. So good, as a matter of fact, I’m actually excited to buy the premium account. When was the last time you were excited about paying for a Web service? Never? Me too.
Picnik also shows how much opportunity exists in the free exchange of data between various Web services. Sure, I use Flickr now, but who knows if I get bored with it or simply find it to be too much work down the road. But if Picnik becomes my main way of editing photos, and the main way of saving them is to send them back to Flickr, suddenly I’m mentally locked into both services (at $25/year). I continue to use both more and more because the data moves so easily between them. All of that process brought to you by the Flickr API.
I wish the Picnik folks the absolute best. They have a real winner on their hands and they deserve huge success.
Now if only they’d give me more tools to help me share word-of-mouth. (e.g. logo badges to put on my site, optional picnik.com watermarking, etc.)