Washington DC-based Pickle makes photo and video-sharing to family, friends and relatives exceedingly easier by improving on an ever-existing approach: e-mail. Pickle quietly launched just over a week ago in beta and so far even this being their first public beta, the product exceeds my expectations.
What I like is the fact that the folks at Pickle realize that media-sharing through e-mail leads any other method that exists by a large margin (75% of people still go this route), and where they come into this is not by providing an alternative, what they claim 'better' solution, but rather to improve on what already exists and to make e-mail sharing easier and less of a pain to both parties — the person who sends the files and the person who receives it.
When you sign up, there are two account types you can get — Basic and Plus. Basic is their free account, and the first 25,000 registered users are able to get much more — including a 200mb monthly upload cap to the normal 75mb and a 100mb file-size limit to the otherwise measly 10mb. You of course, however, will still have to put up with ads, and you won't have the ability to password-protect your shared files and as a viewer you won't be able to download the original images that friends through Pickle send to you. The other account type is Plus, which is their business model. For $20 an year (for the first 25,000 users; otherwise $50), you get 2gb monthly uploads, and a few other features. I think this is a reasonable price to pay for the hassle you will have to put up with otherwise. Something worth noting is that you can upgrade your account anytime.
Once you have signed up, there's not a lot to it. The next time you go for a holiday or your daughter has her 5th birthday or your cat dies and you call a funeral (let's hope that doesn't happen!), you can upload your data — photos and videos (Pickle supports quite a few: .gif, .jpg, .avi, .wmv, .mov, .qtl, .mpg, .mpeg, .3g2, and .3gp) and send a PickleMail — which can be customized to your liking — to whom you want. The PickleMails are compressed so they don't clog up the receiver's mailbox, and the HTML templates you can choose from makes it look much much better than standard attachment e-mails.
It doesn't end here for Pickle, though. One of its main features is the PickleBox, which is a separate 'mailbox' you can create for an occasion, event, album, whatever. The PickleBox has an e-mail address which you can use to upload data (good for those mobile pictures and videos) by simply sending the file as an attachment, and the best thing is that it's not limited to only you, but by sharing the e-mail address and if you have a Plus account, optionally adding a Password to it, you can get anyone to upload or add to the collection — sort of like a Flickr Tag set.
Pickle also makes it easy to share your uploaded media through non-email methods such as blogging. It can generate code to post those videos you took, or alternatively it supports Blogger, TypePad, and LifeJournal to which you can 'create a blog link' and share the clips or photos by. And if you still haven't figured out how Pickle could come handy to you or ways you could use it, they have a special page for this. I love the fact that you can send a "Hi" clip to someone you're missing. 😉
In conclusion, Pickle is a product which really delves into the problem of media-sharing through e-mail and simplifies it, so much so that it not only benefits you, but the person's mailbox you would otherwise clog up. With social networking built in (I didn't go into this much because it's quite self-explanatory), and a ton of features to play with, it's a product that stands up high to big-timers such as Flickr, although doesn't quite fully replace them yet.