Curiously, after reading about the Picasa upgrade, a related article about photo management software popped up in Google Reader, courtesy of Robert Scoble’s excellent link blog.

Robert Scoble had published a couple of podcasts featuring a product demo and an interview with Gibu Thomas, CEO of Sharpcast. Sharpcast is yet another photo management software tool and appears to offer a number of advantages over Picasa:

  • Unlimited free storage
  • Automatic synchronisation between PC and Web albums
  • Original images are preserved

The unlimited storage seems too good to be true and is very useful because, at some point in the near future, I am likely to exceed Picasa’s storage limit unless Google follow suit. Secondly, if I ever edit an image or perform any housekeeping, I will have to manually replicate those changes to Picasa Web Albums. As I am very lazy, that is unlikely to happen.

Finally, I have always presumed that Flickr and Picasa are compressing the images to degrade the quality of my professional photographs to save space and bandwidth. However, that is fine as you get what you pay for and I am paying nothing. Obviously, it is preferable to have the original, unmodified image available without having to continually burn another CD/DVD.

So I signed up for Sharpcast, downloaded the desktop software and quickly synchronised the ‘My Pictures’ folder to the server.

Sharpcast was very fast and easy to use. I was able to synchronise and upload 1,062 photos with a single click. This took less time than uploading the same content from Picasa. Although you can upload multiple albums in Picasa, one album is uploaded at at time and the remainder are queued.

Sharpcast is a genuine competitor to Flickr and Picasa and in the podcast, Gibu talks about extending the range of files to include documents. Sharpcast also includes support for Mac users and mobile phones.

My only reservation is that Sharpcast really does seem too good to be true. I am also a little hazy about the business model. It is not clear if this is Web 2.0 beta software which will subsequently charge or whether Sharpcast will attempt to make money from additional services. Currently the only paid service is photo printing.