Online photofinishing website FotoTime.com has this afternoon sent an email out to members notifying them that, effective 30 days from now, the company will no longer offer free photo-sharing services to members. Whilst the company's FotoAlbum software will remain free, members will be charged $23.95 annually for 250MB of storage, with additional storage charged at the same rate of $23.95 annually per 250MB.
New members will be charged according to this fee schedule effective immediately. Existing members who choose not to subscribe have a choice of retrieving their pictures by loading the full-sized versions into their browser and saving them, or using FotoTime's DownloadPics program to bulk download pictures, albums and captions.
FotoTime do not have advertising banners on their site, and note in their announcement email that:
"It has been the explosive growth we have experienced in the last six months that is forcing us to change our business model. It was always our intent that sales from merchandise would provide the funds to support FotoTime’s growth. Unfortunately, sales have not been able to keep up with FotoTime’s increasing popularity and additional storage costs." Over the last weeks and months, a string of online photofinishing companies have either changed to a pay model or gone out of business altogether. We've likened this trend to a domino rally in past reports, and believe it will continue for some time yet.
The full text of FotoTime's email follows:
August 1, 2001
Dear FotoTime Members,
We are sending this letter to inform you about animportant service change with your FotoTime account. We will continue to provide FotoAlbum free of charge; however, beginning August 1, 2001, we will be adding a fee for storing yourpictures on the FotoTime website.
The base price for storage will be less than $2.00/month($23.95/year). This amountallows us to continue to provide the high level of service you have come toenjoy, while remaining competitive with other photo sharing sites. In order to provide enough time for you to decide whetherFotoTime is the best photo-sharing solution for you, we are providing a 30-daygrace period before your pictures will be removed. Additionally, new FotoTime customers will receive afree 30-day trial period to evaluate our service.
By changing to a subscription site, FotoTime will be ableto continue to provide superior long-term solutions for organizing, viewing andsharing your pictures. We areplanning new and exciting features to ensure we reach our goal of becoming notonly the easiest and best, but your photo-sharing choice.
It has been the explosive growth we have experienced in thelast six months that is forcing us to change our business model. It was always our intent that sales from merchandise would provide thefunds to support FotoTime’s growth. Unfortunately,sales have not been able to keep up with FotoTime’s increasing popularity andadditional storage costs. We havealso decided to continue our policy of not pursuing banner advertising due tothe low advertising rates and the distraction it causes to your photo sharingexperience.
We are just as passionate about our business now as when westarted the company over two years ago. Ourgoal has always been to provide superior software and services with greatcustomer support. We arefinancially sound and privately financed with no debt, ensuring a long-termfocus while providing great flexibility.
We will provide free upgrades to FotoAlbum and continuewith our plans for enhancing the integration of our website and FotoAlbum. For a summary of these plans, please refer to: http://www.fototime.com/pages/FuturePlans.
We hope you understand our position and will choose tocontinue being a FotoTime customer. Ifyou wish to subscribe, you can view additional details at: http://www.fototime.com/pages/subscribe.
If you choose to not continue using FotoTime as yourphoto-sharing solution, you can find additional resources on how best toretrieve your albums and close your account at http://www.fototime.com/pages/RetrievePics.
The FotoTime Team