Back in 2014, a German startup successfully launched the Panono 360 via Indigogo. It's a little ball sprinkled with lenses that you throw up in the air to create perfect 360 degrees panoramas with a whopping resolution of 108MP. While other crowdfunding campaigns fall short of delivering a product altogether, Panono appears to become a failure in another department, five years after its product launch. Starting this September, the company will charge €0.79 ($0.88) for each photo stitched together on its cloud platform, and customers are enraged.

The company hasn't publicly announced its bold business model shift at all. Instead, it sent out emails to existing customers, stating that during "our start up phase, we have given this service as a free gift to users. Now, with higher use and maturity of our services, we have to hand these costs over to our customers to maintain our business and operations, as these costs already start to produce heavy deficits on our side."

Customers are annoyed by the change, to put it lightly. During the Indigogo campaign, Panono suggested that its essential cloud services were forever included in the device's $2,000 price tag. Right now, the company's online shop doesn't even mention the additional costs at all, yet. You're led to believe that stitching comes free with the device. The company also hasn't publicly communicated on its Twitter account since last November, and its forum website appears to be offline at the moment. That's not what I'd call transparent communication with customers.

While it's clear that cloud processing comes with high costs, Panono has already had monthly subscriptions that give users basic functionality such as a €10 fee for editing images or a €20 tier that removes the company's logo from footage. These should have been able to offset some of the costs. Making matters worse, the cloud processing software is the only means to export images from the camera. There is no local option and no competing solution, essentially leaving you with an expensive tennis ball if you don't want to pay for each image.

I fear that any change of heart in Panono's business plan might come too late for the company. Once trust erodes, customers quickly search for competing solutions, and other companies might take it upon themselves to push into Panono's niche at a lower price. This is another example of a business underestimating longterm support for its product.

Panono
Panono
Price: Free

Alternate Title: That's a no-no: Panono makes its camera's 360 panoramas $0.90 apiece.