A Live Photo Feed of Your Life

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. What happens, then, when you gather an online community of users, all of whom are actively contributing new pictures on a regular basis? It seems that the answer is a website called Mobog. The photo sharing site was recently raised from the dead and the owner put in a review request to let John Chow dot Com readers know about it. And yes, before you ask, Mobog is absolutely free.

Subscribe to Pictures

The idea behind this picture community is that users are able to upload photos either from their computers or from their cell phones. Each user has his or her own stream of pictures and you are able to subscribe to this feed. If you subscribe to a friend’s feed of uploads and this friend sends pictures from his cell phone on a fairly frequent basis, you are effectively treated to a live photo feed of his life.

In this way, you could say that Mobog fits somewhere between the microblogging model of Twitter and the picture sharing model of Flickr. Mobog has some social networking elements, in this way, but it’s not nearly as comprehensive as some of the other networks out there. It’s much more specialized than that. You can, however, send messages through the Mobog internal messaging system.

A Little History Behind Mobog

Even though the current version of Mobog is relatively new, its origins actually date all the way back to 2004. That’s an eternity in Internet years! Back then, Philip Kaplan started Mobog as a hobby. Unfortunately, the site became a little too difficult to maintain and Philip chose to take it down in 2006. Before the wrecking ball came through, however, Mobog caught the attention of a men’s magazine.

It turns out that FHM selected Mobog to top its list for the 50 most addictive websites. That was quite the honor, but it wasn’t until recently that Philip decided to rebuild the site “over a weekend.” It’s been live for a few weeks now and he’s already gained about 10,000 registered users.

Website Widgets and Personal Profiles

Sharing pictures on the Internet is far from being a novel idea. It is not immediately obvious why someone would choose Mobog over a larger online community like MySpace. The subscription idea sounds like it could be interesting — you can either receive updates via email or through the site — but that’s not all that different than seeing your friends’ recent pictures in your Facebook Mini-Feed.

One nice feature that Mobog does have is the ability to embed pictures on your website or blog. By placing a small piece of code, your latest Mobog picture will always be displayed. Again, if you make extensive use of the mobile upload feature, your site visitors can effectively get a live shot of what you’re doing. It’s like lifecasting through a series of stills.

Each user profile is given a very easy to remember web address. Philip Kaplan’s username, for example, is “pud” and his profile can be found at http://www.mobog.com/pud. There is a limited level of customization available there. I guess Mobog (not to be confused with Bodog) is taking the minimalist approach.

In fact, that’s my overall impression of Mobog. The entire site, both in terms of design and concept, is incredibly simple in nature. It has been stripped down to the bare essentials and I feel that the average web user may be turned off a little by the lack of features. You don’t need flashing banners and complex templates, but even something as simple as an obvious logo could work wonders.

Monetization and Flickr

At this time, there does not appear to be any monetization on Mobog whatsoever. As the site continues to grow, I can see the potential for a few ad banners and maybe some sort of premium account. In the meantime, it seems like the most popular pictures being uploaded will inevitably be those of webcam girls. At least there’s a filter for NWS content.

In the end, I can’t say why someone would opt for Mobog photo sharing over something larger and more established like Flickr. The website widget is nice, but a Flickr photostream seems more powerful. Lastly, I think it would be a good idea to allow users to attach Creative Commons licenses to their images. Otherwise, it’s not clear what can and cannot be “shared” elsewhere.