Canon to launch digital image management service

Service will consolidate images and comments from social media platforms in one place.

Canon has announced a new cloud-based service aimed at allowing users to consolidate digital images and comments hosted on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr, in one single online repository.

In addition to helping users store and better track their images and conversations, the service, which is yet to be named or priced, will allow Canon and non-Canon customers alike to create image timelines and "life stories".

According to Canon's digital product manager Myles Lawlor, there has been an explosion in the photography market, with the number of images taken in the last 12 months equated to 10 percent of all images ever taken.

This is in large part down to a combination of the proliferation of camera-equipped smartphones and the rise of social media platforms on which to share images.

However, according to Lawlor, with this explosion in imagery on social platforms came a need to keep track of these images, as well as the social interactions the images initiated. The service would seek to address this.

"Customers tell us they have taken 20,000 images and don't know what to do with them, or don't know where they are," he said.

"It's an anxiety about control ... how are my images being used on social media? How can I unify all those?"

According to Lawlor, there are no grounds for anxiety among consumers over whether they would lose control or rights over their images if they were placed on the new Canon service.

"Canon treats consumer details as its most paramount principle... our guiding principle is that [users'] photographs will always, always, always be the ownership of the customer," he said.

"We will never grab rights of those photos, we will never assume rights over those photos, they will remain [users'] property.

"That is key for us. We are not a platform for advertising, we are not a platform for trying to figure out consumer trends. We are an imaging company."

The service, which is due to launch later this year with Facebook and Flickr compatibility, is running on Microsoft's Azure cloud platform.

According to Lawlor, Canon decided on Azure for a number of reasons, in particular its belief that the cloud platform is secure and would protect users' data and content.

"We wanted a platform where we could extend security across whatever cloud platform it was we chose, and Azure allowed us to do that; we were able to extend our Active Directory requirement across it.

"From a consumer point of view ... for some of the social features of Facebook and Flickr, the ACS [access control service] feature in Azure was key for us, and we wouldn't be here today without it."

Tim Lohman travelled to Microsoft's TechEd conference as a guest of Microsoft.


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