ShoZu is an application that I have used before on my various Nokia handsets. The app allows you to upload photos and video from your mobile device to multiple online video/photo services.
The UK based software company has spent the last few quarters optimizing their staff to deliver a great service offering to it’s customers. Shozu drew some heat in the last few weeks for choosing to charge for their application, a move that wasn’t warmly received in the blogging world.
I had a recent interview with ShoZu CEO Chris Wade where I asked him to introduced himself (he’s been recently added as CEO). The interview continues on from there:
There has been a recent changing of the guard at Shozu: what are the new priorities inside the company?
I have been in the telco industry for 30 years. Once as a part of Nortel and a few startups — largely based in the location/GPS market.Â I have been involved with Shozu since 2002, first as an investor and more recently I was Chairman of the board since the end of last year.Â I was named CEO about 4 weeks ago.
I am seriously invested in the company and I want to see it grow. The transition from the former CEO to myself was a mutually agreed upon decision, we felt it was time for new leadership for ShoZu to move on.Â We are now focused on moving forward…
Just a few weeks ago, we launched the iPhone application as a paid application. Our rationale for with the paid route: unfortunately, the company wasn’t making sufficient money with the previous models. Therefore, we couldn’t establish a good enough position with VCs to attract new capital and we needed to re-think our business model. Simply put, ShoZu had to do something fundamentally different with the business.
Under our previous model, the company was spending more money getting embedded on different handsets than we were making money on the application. Plus, the software reload process took too long for us to get new software versions into the system.
Recently, with the development of the mobile application stores on the various mobile platforms a new model presented itself. If we could charge a one-time app fee, the loyalty generated to the consumer would be twofold: first, we would have no need to place ads, and we could provide regular updates to consumers.
What steps are you taking to set ShoZu apart from the competition?
First of all, we are increasing the 10MB video upload limit.
There are many other advancements that we are working on that I can’t commit to or comment on right now.
Most of all, we want to adopt a model that sustains Shozu and has a better experience for consumers.Â We are also looking into other revenue models, such as monetizing new features int he application layer.
As a company, we have a high degree of intellectual property.Â We currently hold 9 patents and we are actively seeking new ways to draw value from these hard-earned wins.
How many people work at ShoZu?
We have strategically looked at our staffing and have downsized accordingly.Â As you know, Jason, VC funding is hard to come by these days, so we’re always looking for ways to best manage our finances.Â Currently, we are down to about 15 people a day.Â We were forced to scale back carrier-specific development andÂ focus on applications and platforms.
Shozu supports a large array of phone models and operating systems…is this sustainable?Â Are you hoping for a middleware like Adobe AIR to help bridge the gap between mobile OS?
We are currently going after development for these platforms: Apple, Nokia, and Blackberry.Â We made a decision to embrace the app stores on these platforms.
What about Android?
Android: we are working on it.Â In fact, we have partnered with a major handset manufacturer.Â Android is big for us, as we view Android as a match for Symbian in terms of architecture and openness.
And the Palm Pre?
We are in a “wait and see” attitude with the Pre thus far.
Have you seen any slowdown of new user signups, since you went paid?
Before we charged for the app, we were seeing about 5000 downloads a night.Â Now we are seeing hundreds.Â However, I don’t feel bad about this as each paid app download means we are achieving sustainable growth going forward.
There are apps that do a lot of the same things as ShoZu.Â PixelPipe and the native uploaders for the various services – how does ShoZu stand out?
We know about PixelPipe.Â In fact, there are some relationships between our people and those at PixelPipe.Â Shozu will add features to create differentiation.Â For example, Share Online from Nokia features no geolocation or other two-way communications.Â The other apps, mainly, are just apps that merely upload your photos to a website.
Also, we have over 50 destinations that feed assets to, including Flickr, Facebook, and others.Â In our research, we found that the average ShoZu user uploads to 3 different locations
One factor that ShoZu hasn’t advertised yet, but sets us apart from our competitors, the ShoZu application is very data efficient.Â Our uploads generage 30% less data going over the wire.Â This is huge for those on data plans that charge by the megabyte, or US based carriers for carriers such as AT&T (who suffer from spotty network coverage).