Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Future Shop's Photo Sharing Site is Closing Down!


Futurephoto, Future Shop's photo sharing Website (http://www.futurephoto.ca/), is closing down! If you're a member of the service like I am, you've likely received a number of e-mail notifications over the past month, advising of the close. The e-mails and home page also recommend that you migrate your images over to the new Canadian Kodak Gallery site at http://www.kodakgallery.ca/, Future Shop's new partner. A warning also explains that, if you fail to move the albums over by May 31, they'll be deleted from the system.

I must admit that I was a tad upset when I saw this. I've been using Future Photo for at least 5 years, and I have about 60 albums in there! Now I have to go through this whole ordeal to ensure that I don't lose my images. And what if I don't like Kodak's gallery? Not to mention that, one of the main reasons I chose Future Photo in the first place was that I appreciate being able to place orders online, then pick them up in the store closest to me. Can I still do that? Here are your answers.

First, don't fear. From some quick browsing through Kodak's Gallery, it looks very similar to Future Photo, with many of the same features and capabilities. As with anything, there will be a learning curve. But that's what keeps us on our toes, right?

Second, you can still place orders online for everything from standard 4 x 6" prints to photo mugs, T-shirts, and books, and pick them up at a Future Shop store of your choosing. In fact, you can now pick them up at Best Buy locations as well, which you weren't able to do with Future Photo! Pricing is pretty much the same, and you can pay via VISA or AMEX. As an added incentive, Future Shop and Kodak Gallery are offering customers 100 free 4 x 6" photos (up until June 30, 2008) if they switch over before the deadline of May 31.

As with Future Photo, unlimited storage is free, as long as you make at least one purchase each year to maintain the account. Lori Helms from Kodak Gallery tells me that members will be notified via e-mail when approaching the one-year mark, and a purchase can be as little as one $0.15 4 x 6" print, the same parameters that were on Future Photo.

This all sounded good, so a few weeks ago, I went ahead with the transfer. After a few days, I noticed that my images still weren't in the Kodak Gallery. Uh-oh. I logged back into Future Photo, where up came a message that I was in a queue, and it could take up to a few weeks for my photos to transfer. Great. Best Buy's Brian FitzGerald tells me that, in addition to lots of people switching over, there are indeed some "heavy users" like me whereby the transfer process times out before all the photos can flip over to the new site. He reassured me that Future Photo is aware of these situations, and is in the process of examining the issue. In some instances, Future Shop will locate the problem account and manually transfer missing images over. In other cases, some customers might receive an e-mail stating that there was an issue, and requesting that they initiate transfer again. Frankly, I don't care which method is used, as long as my photos are properly migrated! FitzGerald also points out that, as soon as all photos are successfully transferred, the user will receive a e-mail confirming that so as to avoid any confusion. I guess at this point, all I can do is hurry up and wait.

Now, about 3 weeks have passed, and I'm still missing photos. I trust that I will get them all switched over eventually, but this certainly is an eye-opener about relying on just one spot to store photos. My advice to anyone out there, regardless of where you store your images online, is to always keep an archive CD on hand, along with physical prints or photobooks. Prints really are still just as relevant today as they were 20 years ago! Essentially, keep your pictures in as many places as you can. I'll certainly be cashing in on my 100 free prints!

Interestingly, FitzGerald says that about 21% of active Future Photo customers have already transferred their accounts over, and the company expects many more to do so prior to the official closing date. Why is the site closing? According to FitzGerald, the photo sharing aspect just simply wasn't part of Future Shop's core business. The new partnership with Kodak Gallery is an extension of a previously-established, enterprise-level pairing between Kodak and Future Shop's parent company, Best Buy Co., Ltd. For now, although you can still access Future Photo albums whether you've initiate a transfer or not, all uploading capabilities have been disabled.

Happy photo storing!

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I too loved using Futurephoto. The thing I loved most was being able to order 24x36" prints for $19.99 and pick them up in the store no more than 2 or 3 days after I ordered.

I checked with Kodak, they do not offer 24x36". The biggest they do is 20x30" for $19.99. So now I have to find another place to get the size of prints I want for a similar price... I'm having a hard time. I don't see why a company like Futureshop can offer prints that large but a huge company like Kodak can't.

Lori Helms - KODAK Gallery said...

I work in marketing at KODAK Gallery and wanted to respond to your comment. We're excited to be offering the service in Canada and are always listening to member feedback. I have passed your request for larger format prints to the product team. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the site and that's you'll continue to use the free shipping to Best Buy and Future Shop locations.