I’ve received two online photo albums today from different friends of mine and both used Picasa Web Albums. I hadn’t told either of them about Picasa (though I’ve told lots of other folks about Picasa!)
While there hasn’t been a lot of coverage of it, my guess is that Picasa Web Albums is slowly becoming a gorilla in the online photo sharing space because of the quality of the Picasa client and because of it’s tight integration with Picasa Web Albums. I don’t have any basis for this claim other than 1) I keep coming across more people using Picasa and 2) I’m involved in product development and I think I can recognize a ‘hit’ product when I see one.
Quiet ‘hits’ — as in successful products and companies that aren’t spotlight-seeking and maybe aren’t even that ‘sexy’ — are often the most interesting ones.
Update: In the comments, Brent asked me how Picasa compares to Flickr. My response:
Flickr may be better for some things (larger critical mass of users, better for bloggers IMO, flickr used by a lot of “influentials”, there’s a social network built-in), but for the sequence of 1) take photographs, 2) import them into computer and 3) share them with my family and friends, the Picasa experience kills the Flickr experience. From Picasa’s camera import capabilities, to the ease with which photos can be corrected, selected and, otherwise, prepped to be shared, to the two click upload process (which takes care of resizing your photographs and more subtle issues like correctly handling albums that get uploaded in multiple parts) to Picasaweb’s actual interface for viewing photographs. Maybe it’s unfair to compare Picasa and Flickr when it comes to the camera->computer upload and the computer->web upload steps, because Flickr doesn’t really contend in those areas at all (somewhat in the computer-web upload area, but their little uploader client is almost a non-contender). But even if you compare the web interfaces themselves, Picasaweb’s interface, I think, puts flickr’s to shame. It uses keyboard shortcuts so when I’m in album or slideshow mode, I can zip through photographs quickly. It seems to pre-cache the next few images so it feels faster than flickr. And best of all, they dynamically resize the image so regardless of the size of my monitor, the image fills most of the page — this is a big one!