Google AdSense on Opera brought me a very interesting link a while ago. It was for a free image hosting service which allows hotlinking and (according to the ad, though I couldn't find any mention of it at the site itself) 500 MB of space. (edit: I loked further, and it is 500 MB of free bandwidth per month they offer. It doesn't say how much space you get for the free accounts. More edit: when you get into the signup page, it reveals that free accounts only have 5 MB of storage- ah, no wonder they can afford it!) Naturally I had to go look. It turns out that the image hosting is one of several free services which the company began offering late last year. They also offer a free weblog site and a free e-mail service with unlimited storage. They even have their own search engine, but clicking on the link to that only brought me a 404 error. Maybe there are startup problems.
But the weirdest thing about this operation is that the company offering all these lavish Internet services is a retailer called Solis Style, which sells clothing, grooming products, accessories, and the like. Furthermore, they are located in the unlikely setting of Warsaw, Indiana. I find the whole thing surpassingly odd. I must admit that their web site is not particularly obnoxious, (only one busy applet on their main page) which is a point in their favor. Another odd thing about the site is that they have at the bottom of their main page a set of links to various "news" items (most of them being about fashion or entertainment, but- oddly, again- a couple of pieces about Apple, including a glowing report headlined Apple Unveils iWork `05 - The fall of MS Office. They appear to be Mac fans and not fond of Microsoft, which I suppose is another point in their favor. They also have a link to their news archive, which has a surprising number of articles, those few which I sampled being fairly well written, and most of them apparently native to the site rather than borrowed from outside sources. They are mostly very similar in style and tone, so were probably written by someone within the company.
I'm thinking about signing up for the photo hosting, just to test it out. (I certainly don't need 500 MB of storage- I've barely begun to fill the 100 MB I'm getting at LJ.) I would suspect it to come with banner ads and such, and maybe I would get spammed to death for signing up, but I don't know. It isn't at all clear to me how this company is going to finance all this stuff. I'm always a bit suspicious of free things on the Internet, especially since the Big Bubble collapsed, but lately it's looked as though we might be entering another period of e-commerce expansion based in part on the constant decline in the cost of such things as storage space and bandwidth, so maybe it isn't all too good to be true- at least temporarily. But I wonder what this particular company is up to, with this sudden foray into an array of web services? Do they have some grand plan to challenge Google? This whole Internet thing is still rather unstable, and there's no telling what company might suddenly burst on the scene to become the next big thing. I'll keep an eye on Solace Style. It could turn out to be interesting.
Sorry, no time for a weather report today.