Gizmodo, the Internet gadget magazine , has reported that Yahoo has killed Flickr (How Yahoo Killed Flickr and Lost the Internet ). Well, as a daily user of Flickr I am happy to report that our dear friend is actually still alive. However, is the site mired in its own development? Is Flickr in good health?
The Gizmodo article is inflammatory and ranting in its tone and there is some vitriol in there too. Mat Honan, the author of this report, seems to have an axe to grind. He has a good grasp of the history of the Yahoo! corporate machine. As a Yahoo! watcher since its first week on the Internet I have noticed a certain desperate, clutching at straws. The collective buzz and rush of the Internet has frequently passed Yahoo! by, barely fluttering its coat-tails. And, yes, Yahoo! has also rushed headlong into things with apparently the wrong motives – as Honan points out. It has also been a typical multinational by doing those things. It has allowed development and project scope to become mired in every corridor. This is not news. Yahoo! and many other large corporates have the same problems out there on the Internet as in any walk of multinational business life.
Flickr was once a brilliant place to be. It was vibrant, active and the images excited everyone. The social traffic was incredible, the networking was years ahead of its time. Yes, Honan is right. Flickr is no longer that vibrant community. Clearly something has gone badly wrong. Yahoo! bought Flickr in 2005 and since then the incredible thundering waters of Flickr has quietened to a backwater. On top of that the recent technical fluffs that have come out of Flickr have not done anything to help it recover. It is drifting along with no commitment and only the occasional attempt at self-rescue.
Some of the other Internet power-houses of the moment have got the image bug. Facebook, once scoffed at images, and yet now can’t seem to get enough. The rumbling rapids of 500px seem to have captured the imagination of the worlds image professionals. It seems to be the place to lay out your wares. I think there may be some truth in what Honan says. Flickr is not healthy – but it is not dead either.
I think Honan shows some lack of understanding about corporations. Facebook is the big hit of the moment. Everyone looks to Facebook to take the next big step. I cannot see it lasting. They have already lost their definition, their precision. Their expansion is likely to become unwieldy and like many behemoths before them they will mire too. This is an almost inevitable result of the tendency towards giant-ism in corporates. It is part of the corporates life cycles. Flickr may be the first social networking site to be a casualty, although not fatally so (yet). However, lots more will go that way. I don’t think Yahoo! will rescue Flickr, but then Yahoo! does very little that is exciting.