After raising over a million dollars during a crowdfunding campaign, the makers of the Panono throwable camera began shipping their oddball device in 2014.

Now, five years later, the company has started charging users about 88 cents for every photo.

Unsurprisingly, the move is catching customers off-guard… although I can’t help but wonder if it was an inevitability.

Here’s the deal — the camera is actually a series of cameras placed on the outside of a sphere. Toss it in the air and it will capture 360 degree panoramic views… but in order to stitch together the data from each camera, Panono uploads your images to a cloud server for processing.

When Panano was just getting started, the company promised the photo-stitching service would be free for customers, whether they paid about $600 during the crowdfunding campaign or the full retail price (which is currently about $2400).

But it turns out that offering cloud services for free forever isn’t really a sustainable business model unless you can offset the costs somehow — and I suspect that despite generating some buzz around 2014, Panono’s hardware sales have cooled in recent years (did I mention that this thing sells for $2400?)

Flash forward to 2019, and users are starting to report that Panono is sending them emails to let them know that starting in September, Panono will charge 0.79 euros (about 88 cents) for every 108MP image that’s stitched together using the company’s servers to help offset the costs of keeping the servers online.

I mean, I suppose if this is the alternative to turning your camera into a brick, it may be better than nothing. But charging close to a buck per photo does seem a bit excessive — I wonder if part of the idea is to generate revenue and another part is to discourage people from actually using their Panono cameras in the first place.

Anyway, this is one of the perils of relying on cloud computing for something that is traditionally performed locally — you run the risk that one day the cloud will raise its prices (or disappear altogether).

via @NicholasGoodden, Gizmodo, Android Police, and PetaPixel


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6 replies on “Oh no no, Panono (crowdfunded throwable camera starts charging for every photo)”

  1. Yet again, another product that I will never ever buy, not because of business decisions, but because the core functionality relies on a cloud service.

    I really did want one of these. Maybe someone can make one that stitches the files locally. It could be done easily on a decent smartphone. Might take a few minutes of processing time.

    1. I haven’t tried to find a Panono 36-image collection to try it, but I have used Hugin (Open source pano software that’s been around about a decade) to stitch about 30 photos into a dome panorama (Showing the horizon and full sky all around). It took an old Core2 Duo about four minutes to stitch, so a modern smartphone will handle it. Notably I did not have to find stitch points manually.

  2. Im still at a loss as to why this “cloud stitching” can’t be done on a local machine (even if it takes a while).

    Im sorry but f basically all “cloud based services” companies that try to get their tentacles into every bit of content thats created, get out of our content and out lives.

  3. If you’re that stupid to spend this much on a product that uses cloud services instead of your own gear you deserve it. Absolutely stupid concept and stupid customers.

  4. If it is tied to the vendor’s website it isn’t yours. Period. If they offer a service as an OPTION it is great, but if you can’t choose to upload the data elsewhere it is a trap.

    1. I’d like to see a mass-mob of the buyers just lineup outside the office of Panono… and in unison just throw their balls against the owner.

      Let’s see if the owner can dodge it, or if he even has the balls to step outside and face the firing squad XD.

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