The lowdown on iPIX

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by DJAurand, Apr 9, 2005.

  1. DJAurand

    DJAurand Guest

    iPIX no longer offers its software that uses a $25 "Key" to produce
    each Full 360x360 Image. Although they still support it and sell Keys.
    The Keys for their Real Estate Wizard, a lower level product, are only
    $20 for 5 keys.

    The iPIX Interactive Studio is sold as a one year license that can
    produce an unlimited number of images for a year. There is then a
    reduced renewel fee.

    Even so iPIX is not cheap software. $899 for the basic one year license
    with 2 add-on modules available at $499 each. With the Formatter module
    the iPIX Interactive Studio can output in Quicktime Cubic Panorama,
    Equirectangular Projection, Cubic Strip, Shockwave w3d and of course
    their propriatary .ipx format. The Enhancer module has image editing
    tools for touching up the images right in the Interactive Studio.
    They're pretty powerfull.

    But for some one in the business of producing multimedia for the
    Internet, that wants to offer Virtual Images for a fee, there's really
    no other pratical choice;

    Most of the hotel companies only support iPIX; Sheraton, Westin,
    Hilton, Doubletree, Wyndham, Radisson and Marriott. If you want to sell
    one of these hotels Virtual Images, iPIX is the only one they accept or
    the one they prefer.

    iPIX is one of the 3 Virtual Image Formats supported by Homestore.com,
    who distributes Virtual Tours to Realtor.com, ColdwellBanker.com,
    ERA.com, Century21.com, PrudentialRealEstate.com, REMAX.com and
    GMACRealEstate.com. Without fast distributuion, a virtual tour of a
    home for sale is useless.

    Some of the other virtual image software is very good, especially
    Quicktime VR. I use PhotoVista for printed panoramas.

    But iPIX is really the only choice for the serious Multimedia Producer
    that wants to do virtual imaging business with major companies.

    If you're only going to make a few Virtual Images for fun or a hobby,
    you should go with another company.

    Yes I'm an iPIX Virtual Tour photographer. Take a look ate my demo
    website at www.VirtualAlbuquerque.com

    Douglas Aurand
    Albuquerque, NM
     
    DJAurand, Apr 9, 2005
    #1
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  2. DJAurand

    Keith Guest

    DJAurand <> wrote:

    > iPIX no longer offers its software that uses a $25 "Key" to produce
    > each Full 360x360 Image. Although they still support it and sell Keys.
    > The Keys for their Real Estate Wizard, a lower level product, are only
    > $20 for 5 keys.
    >
    > The iPIX Interactive Studio is sold as a one year license that can
    > produce an unlimited number of images for a year. There is then a
    > reduced renewel fee.
    >
    > Even so iPIX is not cheap software. $899 for the basic one year license
    > with 2 add-on modules available at $499 each. With the Formatter module
    > the iPIX Interactive Studio can output in Quicktime Cubic Panorama,
    > Equirectangular Projection, Cubic Strip, Shockwave w3d and of course
    > their propriatary .ipx format. The Enhancer module has image editing
    > tools for touching up the images right in the Interactive Studio.
    > They're pretty powerfull.
    >
    > But for some one in the business of producing multimedia for the
    > Internet, that wants to offer Virtual Images for a fee, there's really
    > no other pratical choice;
    >
    > Most of the hotel companies only support iPIX; Sheraton, Westin,
    > Hilton, Doubletree, Wyndham, Radisson and Marriott. If you want to sell
    > one of these hotels Virtual Images, iPIX is the only one they accept or
    > the one they prefer.
    >
    > iPIX is one of the 3 Virtual Image Formats supported by Homestore.com,
    > who distributes Virtual Tours to Realtor.com, ColdwellBanker.com,
    > ERA.com, Century21.com, PrudentialRealEstate.com, REMAX.com and
    > GMACRealEstate.com. Without fast distributuion, a virtual tour of a
    > home for sale is useless.
    >
    > Some of the other virtual image software is very good, especially
    > Quicktime VR. I use PhotoVista for printed panoramas.
    >
    > But iPIX is really the only choice for the serious Multimedia Producer
    > that wants to do virtual imaging business with major companies.
    >
    > If you're only going to make a few Virtual Images for fun or a hobby,
    > you should go with another company.
    >
    > Yes I'm an iPIX Virtual Tour photographer. Take a look ate my demo
    > website at www.VirtualAlbuquerque.com
    >
    > Douglas Aurand
    > Albuquerque, NM


    This is bollocks - most real VR photographers would not touch iPix with
    a barge pole - the quality is simply not there - as well as their
    predatory / rip-off the photographer attitide. This subject has been
    done to death in many other forums.
     
    Keith, Apr 10, 2005
    #2
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  3. "Keith" <> wrote in message
    news:1gus09q.1876vz8pqjsgsN%...
    > DJAurand <> wrote:

    SNIP
    >> But iPIX is really the only choice for the serious Multimedia
    >> Producer that wants to do virtual imaging business with
    >> major companies.

    SNIP
    >
    > This is bollocks - most real VR photographers would not touch
    > iPix with a barge pole - the quality is simply not there - as well
    > as their predatory / rip-off the photographer attitide.


    Indeed, see
    http://swpat.ffii.org/patente/wirkungen/ipix/index.en.html.

    > This subject has been done to death in many other forums.


    But it can't be stressed enough, they are bad news for progress in VR
    photography.

    Bart
     
    Bart van der Wolf, Apr 10, 2005
    #3
  4. DJAurand

    DJAurand Guest

    Then why does iPIX continue to be the technology of choice for so many
    major Real Estate and Corporate Hotel websites?

    I've expanded from Real Estate Tours to Hotel Tours and in a year and a
    half I did 9 hotels in 4 states; a Hilton, a Sheraton, a Wyndham, two
    Radissons, a Marriott and three independent hotels/resorts. Over 60
    Images at $150 each

    How many tours did you provide to a major hotel or real estate website
    in the last year and a half
     
    DJAurand, Apr 10, 2005
    #4
  5. DJAurand

    DJAurand Guest

    Bart
    iPIX's patents have been repeatedly upheld in US Federal Court.

    They own the US patent and they protect it

    They haven't lost a single case.

    What part of that don't you get?

    Doug
     
    DJAurand, Apr 10, 2005
    #5
  6. DJAurand

    Paul Rubin Guest

    "DJAurand" <> writes:
    > They own the US patent and they protect it
    >
    > They haven't lost a single case.
    >
    > What part of that don't you get?


    They threatened Helmut Dersch (author of Panorama Tools) with a bogus
    infringement claim and backed down when he stood up to them, because
    they knew they would lose if they pressed it. But that they hassled
    him at all with such crap, even without going to court and losing,
    shows the predatory attitude which is why many of us think they belong
    in hell.
     
    Paul Rubin, Apr 10, 2005
    #6
  7. DJAurand

    DJAurand Guest

    So why does iPIX still hold the patent in the US and not Mr Dersch?

    My understanding of the infringement case was that they settled out of
    court and that Mr Dersch agreed to not market (sell) his product in the
    US. That's why he gives it away on the net.

    What you call predatory I call agressive.

    Hypothetical Question: A franchisor of 10 Sheraton hotels, all in your
    state, likes your work but needs the virtual images in the iPIX format
    since StarwoodHotels.com only supports that format. Thats 10 hotels
    needing 10 images each at $150 each or $15,000 plus expenses.
    Are you going turn down the contract?

    I find too many Virtual Tour Photographers are great "artists" and
    lousy business people. Their Virtual Tour businesses are little more
    than a hobby that generates a little income, because they hold opinions
    like yours about something they had no part of.

    You probably think Microsoft is the "Evil Empire" too?
     
    DJAurand, Apr 10, 2005
    #7
  8. DJAurand wrote:

    > Bart
    > iPIX's patents have been repeatedly upheld in US Federal Court.
    >
    > They own the US patent and they protect it
    >
    > They haven't lost a single case.
    >
    > What part of that don't you get?
    >
    > Doug
    >


    First, my compliments on your courage of sorts. Defending iPIX can't be
    the easiest way to win friends.

    Second, the USPTO is bizarre and deranged. These are the same folks that
    have granted a patent to someone for inventing a "method for swinging on
    a swing." Couple their track record with the US Courts' scattershot
    competence and it's not hard to imagine that with a break or two and
    some slick lawyering a company such as iPIX can gain a reputation for
    "innovation." Even if their main treasure leans on prior art going back
    to, hell, GERHARD FREAKING MERCATOR(1512-1594).

    Third, resistance is futile. They have rightfully earned a nasty
    reputation for harassing people all over the world (COUGH Helmut Dersch
    COUGH). But hey, you're riding their wave and I guess that one's gotta
    do what one's gotta do to keep from wiping out. I didn't know that
    included admitting in public that you are their iBiyatch, though.

    Fourth, they are based in KNOXVILLE. They live in the same city as THE
    GREAT ORANGE SATAN PHIL FULMER. Need I go on?

    Corry
    --
    It Came From C. L. Smith's Unclaimed Mysteries.
    http://www.unclaimedmysteries.net

    Of course I went to law school. - Warren Zevon, "Mr. Bad Example"
     
    Unclaimed Mysteries, Apr 10, 2005
    #8
  9. DJAurand

    DJAurand Guest

    Corry
    Welcome to the real world of business; You can ride the wave or be down
    by it.

    Kind of like Microsoft and Macintosh, isn't? You can go with the big
    player or be a small fry

    Oh, by the way, they're in Oak Ridge not Knoxville
     
    DJAurand, Apr 10, 2005
    #9
  10. DJAurand wrote:
    > Corry
    > Welcome to the real world of business; You can ride the wave or be down
    > by it.
    >
    > Kind of like Microsoft and Macintosh, isn't? You can go with the big
    > player or be a small fry


    This is soooo 1998.

    Since you brought up Microsoft and by implication similar business
    models, let me ask you:

    1) Is your endorsement of iPIX based entirely upon pragamatism - that
    is, because your clients demand it?

    2) If a viable alternative were available, *and* these clients were open
    to your use of it, would you consider it? If yes, under what circumstances?

    3) Would you consider an open source-based system under any circumstances?

    With these questions I'm trying to understand your apparent enthusiasm
    for this company which by its vicious barratry has driven honest,
    creative people practically underground. To me, supporting iPIX is
    neither good for innovation nor business, at least not in the long term.

    > Oh, by the way, they're in Oak Ridge not Knoxville
    >


    I stand corrected.

    Corry
    --
    It Came From C. L. Smith's Unclaimed Mysteries.
    http://www.unclaimedmysteries.net
     
    Unclaimed Mysteries, Apr 10, 2005
    #10
  11. DJAurand

    Paul Rubin Guest

    "DJAurand" <> writes:
    > So why does iPIX still hold the patent in the US and not Mr Dersch?


    Because Dersch had better things to do that spend a fortune on legal
    fees getting the patent invalidated.

    > My understanding of the infringement case was that they settled out of
    > court and that Mr Dersch agreed to not market (sell) his product in the
    > US. That's why he gives it away on the net.


    No. He has ALWAYS given it away on the net, including before IPIX
    ever heard of him. He gets a good salary as an academic and is not
    that interested in being in the software business or fighting legal
    battles. He instead accepted a settlement that let him keep giving
    away the software as he was doing before. He may have given up the
    right to commercialize it, but I don't think he cared that much.

    > What you call predatory I call agressive.
    > Hypothetical Question: A franchisor of 10 Sheraton hotels, all in your
    > state, likes your work but needs the virtual images in the iPIX format
    > since StarwoodHotels.com only supports that format. Thats 10 hotels
    > needing 10 images each at $150 each or $15,000 plus expenses.
    > Are you going turn down the contract?


    What does that have to do with anything? It's reality in the business
    world that sometimes you have to hold your nose and deal with sleazy
    people. That doesn't make them smell any better.

    > You probably think Microsoft is the "Evil Empire" too?


    If you mean do I think Microsoft engages in predatory and
    monopolitistic illegal business practices, it's not a matter of
    opinion. It's a fact established in a court of law and upheld
    through two different appeals.
     
    Paul Rubin, Apr 10, 2005
    #11
  12. "DJAurand" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Bart
    > iPIX's patents have been repeatedly upheld in US Federal Court.


    Which says something about both the USPTO and the federal court.

    > They own the US patent and they protect it


    They hold a patent on something that is different from other
    "inventions" (large amounts of prior art). Yet they bully small
    inventors out of business with their litigation claims that can drain
    the resources and bankrupt an individual.
    It doesn't mean they are right, they just have more money so the
    others cave in before they do. Thus monopolizing the business, causes
    some to be driven in their arms due to lack of alternatives. Their
    pricing structure reflects that there is lack of competition.

    > They haven't lost a single case.


    Money buys justice in some systems. I'm not saying that they buy the
    judges, they just hire more lawyers.

    > What part of that don't you get?


    I think I have a reasonable understanding of what really happens,
    having witnessed the struggle of Prof. Helmut Dersch who offered a
    free utility based on prior work. They hassled him once and backed
    off, then the next(?) year (probably looking to improve their bottom
    line) they hassled him again, and Helmut couldn't justify the legal
    expense of fighting the same battle again (probably every year), so he
    gave up.

    I suggest you read some background (see the link I provided which
    amongst others leads to
    http://www.virtualproperties.com/noipix/patents.html) before
    questioning someone elses understanding.

    Bart
     
    Bart van der Wolf, Apr 10, 2005
    #12
  13. DJAurand

    Cynicor Guest

    "DJAurand" <> wrote:
    > Corry
    > Welcome to the real world of business; You can ride the wave or be down
    > by it.
    >
    > Kind of like Microsoft and Macintosh, isn't? You can go with the big
    > player or be a small fry


    No, not really. Microsoft invested $150 million in Apple several years ago,
    and the company actively creates and markets software for the Macintosh
    platform. Doesn't sound like what iPix has done.
     
    Cynicor, Apr 10, 2005
    #13
  14. DJAurand

    DJAurand Guest

    Corry
    1) My endorsement is mainly based on pragmatism. The other part is I
    like the product and I've had a good relationship with their support
    department with technical problems and management working on business
    developement. The clients I work directly with are usually totally
    unaware of the various vitual imaging products. When I'm competing with
    other virtual image providers, the fact that they can use the same
    images in their local site and their franchise site is an overwhelming
    edge. I just present the advantages and disadvantages in an open an
    honest presentation and I have yet to loose out.

    2) I've looked at many other virtual image technologies. I'm in
    business to make money, I've looked at alternatives so I could avoid
    buying Keys or an annual license, just buy the software once. But its
    much more than that; they came up with the Link method of providing the
    virtual tours (Realtor.com didn't want to host and manage thousands of
    images from all over the country, so iPIX did, providing a URL link to
    the tour for them to use instead, a technique which the other software
    providers now imitate. None of the iPIX Images on StarwoodHotels.com
    are hosted on the site, they're hosted by iPIX), iPIX built the
    business relationships with the real estate and travel industry that
    their competition never did (Quicktime VR owned early virtual imaging
    but never developed business relationships. Bamboo.com merged with iPIX
    combining Bamboo's real estate contracts with iPIX's better technology
    and photographer model), they've continued to build relationships with
    other multimedia software companies (their software has been able to
    produce Quicktime VR images for several years and the new Interactive
    Studio can output Shockwave w3d files, they are adding a RealViz
    plug-in and are working with iSeeMedia to produce a plug-in for them).
    They already have an output that is supported by the PTViewer, its
    either an Equirectangular Projection or a Cubic Strip, I don't remember
    which. If my clients want a different format than .ipx, I can probably
    produce it with the iPIX software now or shortly. As a multimedia
    business why would I want to use more limited products?
    And they provide multiple methods of using the images no one else does
    or did (the Sheraton took 3 months to get the iPIX Images added to
    their website. In the meantime they were e-mailing the iPIX eGallery
    and eBrochure constantly. They are self-contained .exe files that
    contain the images and a player in one e-mailable file)

    3) I will look at and consider any alternative. I have been. I have to.
    The fortunes of business change too much. iPIX Corp is still not
    profitable which worries me a lot.
    But iPIX is such a better "total package" of virtual imaging software,
    features and business opportunies, I don't see anyone stepping up to
    replace them unless they fail fiancially.

    My enthusiasm is based on iPIX providing a much, much more complete
    tool than its competition. Does Apple even offer the Quicktime VR
    Authoring software in a Windows version yet? iPIX has long offered Mac
    Versions of their software.

    I've found them more creative and innovative than any of their peers,
    not just in their software but in the supporting tools and business
    relationships they've built that benefit producers like me

    I acknowledge, iPIX has been very heavy handed in protecting their
    virtual image patents. But they developed much of the market for
    virtual imaging through their work with the real estate and travel
    industries, the 2 buggest users of virtual imaging.

    The demand that is growing for virtual imaging was largely created by
    iPIX.

    My observation, talking with users of competing software, is the
    biggest complaint they have about iPIX is the different financial model
    they use. iPIX sold their software cheap (about half the price of
    Quicktime VR) and gave away the real estate version, but charged for
    Keys to produce and host images. The "geeks" wanted to buy it cheap or
    get it free and not have to buy Keys. I have Realtors who have
    purchased the virtual image software but are then mad that Realtor.com
    won't host the virtual tour FREE??? After all they paid $500 for the
    sofware & equipment, they shouldn't have to pay any more, should they?

    iPIX adapted and is now an annual liciense. By having a continuing
    revenue stream, iPIX has had the money to continue to develop their
    software (Interactive Studio is the 3rd version I've seen in 6 years),
    provide additional multimedia tools and support tools like Host@iPIX

    The biggest selling feature of all iPIX's competition, except Quicktime
    VR, is low price. That's about all they have to offer.

    Doug Aurand
     
    DJAurand, Apr 10, 2005
    #14
  15. DJAurand

    DJAurand Guest

    Bart
    Stripped down to the essence, iPIX has successfully defended their
    patent.

    Is that not correct?

    You can argue details and side issues, but they won, its settled, move
    on.

    Doug
     
    DJAurand, Apr 10, 2005
    #15
  16. DJAurand

    DJAurand Guest

    Cory
    This real world scenario came to mind;

    Imagine I'm preparing a proposal for a hotel who's Franchise Website
    supports iPIX (Hilton, Sheraton, Marriott, Radisson,etc) but the
    websmaster of their local website won't host iPIX Images (somehow they
    didn't fire him over this).

    He's a rabid suporter of Mr Dersch and will only host images that use
    the java PTViewer.

    With the iPIX Interactive Studio I can ouput Equirectangular
    Projections or Cubic Strips (I'm nout sure which the PTViewer uses, but
    can create both just by clicking a few buttons) for the webmaster to
    use with the PTViewer and .ipix files to be provided to the Franchise
    Website or Host@iPIX who can provide a URL Link to the virtual tour to
    the Franchise Website.

    And I probably wouldn't charge any extra for the extra files

    I can do the same if the webmaster insists on Quicktime VR or
    Macromedia Flash/Shockwave.

    ALL FROM THE SAME SOURCE IMAGES!!!!

    Why in the world would I want to use somebody elses software that would
    drastically limit my output choices??????
    Why would I want to incur the cost of the other software and the Mac G3
    to run the Quicktime VR Authoring software????? (I checked, there's no
    Windows version of the Quicktime VR software)

    Doug Aurand
     
    DJAurand, Apr 10, 2005
    #16
  17. DJAurand

    Keith Guest

    DJAurand <> wrote:

    snip

    > Why in the world would I want to use somebody elses software that would
    > drastically limit my output choices??????


    One reason might be because the iPix images are so low resolution, you
    cannot zoom into the image to any great degree. A lot of iPix images
    I've seen have had very poor joins between the two fisheye imagfes - if
    I were the customer I would have asked for my money back, or not paid in
    the1st place!

    With other systems you can create a very high resolution 'master' image
    which can be used to print wide panoramic images on paper or high res
    full screen images for interactive use.
     
    Keith, Apr 10, 2005
    #17
  18. "DJAurand" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Bart
    > Stripped down to the essence, iPIX has successfully defended
    > their patent.
    >
    > Is that not correct?


    As long as your customers (and you) are willing to pay iPIX out of the
    bottom line, good luck.

    > You can argue details and side issues, but they won, its settled,
    > move on.


    I (and maybe some of your competition) have. HDR immersive imaging,
    besides other alternatives to iPIX, seems to be becoming the
    fashion... (http://www.hdrsoft.com/index.html,
    http://webuser.fh-furtwangen.de/~dersch/,
    http://www.idruna.com/photogenicshdr.html,
    http://www.spheron.de/spheron/public/en/home/home.php,
    http://home.vrway.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/VRWay.woa,
    http://www.nicophoto.com/panoramas/pano_display.php?info=crib.inc.php-l,
    etc., etc.).

    Bart
     
    Bart van der Wolf, Apr 11, 2005
    #18
  19. DJAurand

    Paul Rubin Guest

    "DJAurand" <> writes:
    > Stripped down to the essence, iPIX has successfully defended their
    > patent.
    >
    > Is that not correct?


    Of course it's incorrect. The essence is they are scum, no matter what
    the court decided. Courts only decide whether something is legal, not
    whether it's reprehensible. There are lots of scumbags who do things that
    are reprehensible but legal.

    > You can argue details and side issues, but they won, its settled, move on.


    More nonsense, you said yourself that they weren't profitible. For
    them (though maybe not the rest of us), profitibility is the only real
    issue, and everything else including court decisions are side issues.
    I am glad to hear they are unprofitible and I hope they will be out of
    business soon. That is when it will be time to move on.

    I don't understand why you are so enthused about them anyway. I
    understand you make lots of money shooting real estate pictures using
    their software, so it's reasonable to say you use their stuff out of
    business necessity. I myself use Microsoft Windows at work, out of a
    similar type of business necessity. Microsoft are scum and I use
    their stuff because I have to. If I were a real estate photographer,
    maybe I'd be saying the same thing about iPix. But you don't find me
    going on pro-Microsoft campaigns in newsgroups and you similarly won't
    find me on pro-iPix campaigns.
     
    Paul Rubin, Apr 11, 2005
    #19
  20. DJAurand

    Paul Mitchum Guest

    DJAurand <> wrote:

    > Then why does iPIX continue to be the technology of choice for so many
    > major Real Estate and Corporate Hotel websites?
    >
    > I've expanded from Real Estate Tours to Hotel Tours and in a year and a
    > half I did 9 hotels in 4 states; a Hilton, a Sheraton, a Wyndham, two
    > Radissons, a Marriott and three independent hotels/resorts. Over 60 Images
    > at $150 each
    >
    > How many tours did you provide to a major hotel or real estate website in
    > the last year and a half


    Why is this bragging relevant to rec.photo.digital?
     
    Paul Mitchum, Apr 11, 2005
    #20
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