Photozou: Zynga Japan Sells Photo Sharing Site To Digital Garage

Back in 2010, when Zynga acquired Tokyo-based Unoh (and turned the company into its Japan HQ), the main targets of the Americans were game-related assets and the team.

But Zynga also acquired a pretty successful photo sharing service that was developed by Unoh: Photozou,which went live in 2005 and can probably be best described as Japan’s homegrown Flickr. (During its company history, Unoh launched quite a few services, i.e. a movie information service or a mobile ad network that were both sold off later, too.)

Today, Tokyo-based Digital Garaget (Twitter’s partner in Japan) announced it acquired Photozou from Zynga Japan for an undisclosed sum (press release in English). DG says that Photozou currently boasts 130 million photos on its site, uploaded by some 2.4 million registered members.

For Zynga Japan, selling a photo sharing service it acquired “by chance” makes sense.

DG explains the deal like so:

DG will develop a communication service linked with a variety of media offered by the DG Group and its ventures, built around the photo sharing capability of Photozou. As the first step, DG is planning to collaborate with Twinavi (http://twinavi.jp/) run by its subsidiary CGM Marketing, inc. and a social media scrapbook service called Memolane (http://memolane.com/) run by Memolane, with which DG is in a capital and business partnership.

In addition, DG is planning to offer a series of Web services and applications to easily save photos shot with a smartphone on a cloud network and share them with family and acquaintances, targeting the rapidly expanding smartphone market.

DG says they consider to integrate Photozou into its international business, too.

In Japan, Google Trends for Websites indicates Photozou is more popular than Flickr, at least on PCs:

Flickr mashup on Google App Engine from Japan

Here comes a new idea directly from Japan to make life on the web a little easier.

Llamerada, a Japanese web engineer, coded a Flickr mashup on AJAX interface. He announced the release today on his blog.

So what is this about?

The basic idea is to make search on Flickr more comfortable. Llamerada wanted to display as many as 16,000 photos in grid style (retrieved by Flickr’s API and based on Flickr tags), make use of Google Maps flavored AJAX interface and arrange similar photographs close to each other within the grid by using a self-developed algorithm.

The new service is named “TagGrid of Flickr Popular Tags”.

Picture: TagGrid of Flickr Popular Tags

As can be seen on the screenshot, the overall view of tags comes to play in the box on the right hand side. However, various tags like “Japan”, “girls”, “animals”, “Ireland” etc. are wildly mixed together on the “map”. Some of the tags form a cloud, making them impossible to read.

Pictures tagged “animal”, for example, are grouped in the box on the left. In fact, browsing by tags is more comfortable this way. However, similar photos were not necessarily arranged next to each other when I tried out the application.

So some more work needs to be done to make this cool idea worthwile. There is no language or cultural barrier here so it is easy to check TagGrid out yourself.

Web umbrella Pileus

Even hardcore geeks might have never dreamt of something like this: An umbrella which is connected to the Internet!

This gadget was developed by researchers at Tokyo-based Keio University. The “Pileus” umbrella looks ordinary from the outside but actually is a quite clever piece of hardware.

The umbrella is able to display web sites on the canopy’s underside while walking around. In addition to a mobile projector the Pileus is equipped with a camera, Wi-Fi, GPS and a digital compass.

When you make pictures, the gadget lets you upload them to Flickr within minutes. Tagging is also possible.

pileus umbrella

pileus31.jpg
(pictures courtesy of Pileus LLC)

Besides Flickr, the Pileus is also meant to work well with Google Earth. If you are lost somewhere, the umbrella’s GPS function and compass come into play. The Pileus can then display your surroundings in 3D via Google Earth and help you find back the way.

The hardware is now in its 3rd generation. What began as an art project turned into serious business. The makers of the Pileus founded an LLC of the same name aiming at commercializing the product as soon as possible.