Thoughts on Flickr

27/07/2012 //

Most of us old warhorses who have been around the Internet a while (back when we had to use dial-up modems, barefoot in winter etc.) probably have at least a passing relationship with Flickr. As has been documented elsewhere (extensively, I might add), Yahoo! bought Flickr and, as is Yahoo!’s won’t, let it go to shit.

Granted, it’s not quite that bad. Flickr is still fundamentally a decent service, but it’s stuck in 2005 and according to my calendar, this is the year 2012. Flickr could’ve – should’ve – been Instagram. It could also be a neat alternative to Pinterest, at least for users such as myself.

Now, I do suspect things are afoot already: Apple’s Mountain Lion is getting integration with Flickr. This should help drive traffic to the site, especially if the same integration comes to iOS, which is arguably more important than Apple’s desktop offerings. Of course, users still need to actually like Flickr when they get there, and of course, start to use it.

More important than Apple integration, however, is the news that Google’s “20th employee,” Marissa Meyer, has been hired as Yahoo!’s new CEO. (Leading to this within a day of the announcement) Hiring her may help Yahoo! and it may not, but Meyer gets the web. For an Internet company, I can see that being potentially helpful. (Granted, Google bought Picasa and let the web interface stagnate, though Google+, the anti-social network is arguably meant to replace it)

So here are a few things I’d like to see Flickr get on:

#A decent app. I don’t know what the Android app is like, as there wasn’t one back when I had an Android phone, but the iPhone app is, frankly, a disgrace. After waiting for ages, I finally paid for FlickStackr. (Which is very good, by the way, but a lot of the functionality should be in the official app.) I was actually rather hoping they’d buy (the now-defunct) PicPlz.
#A bookmarklet. How hard can it be? There was a functioning Flickr bookmarklet back in 2007, made by a user. You can’t seriously claim Yahoo! can’t make this themselves. I get that new companies like Pinterest (and, which I’ve been using for years) are necessary to shake stuff up, but personally, I’d rather have a “collection stream” on Flickr. Sure, storage costs money, but maybe as part of the paid service (which I’ve been using since 2006)?
#A make-over. Flickr has looked the same for years. Granted, that has little impact on basic functionality, except when it does, but a new coat of paint wouldn’t hurt either. Hey, I’m fickle; so sue me.

I still have faith in Flickr. The team seems to be on ”our” side, and have acknowledged the many issues of their stagnant service. The main problem is Yahoo! itself. I hope they’ll come to understand that they have a solid product on their hands that could potentially prove fantastic for them, provided they focus on the end user instead of the shareholder. (Granted, I’m not an economist, but I would think there’s more money in retaining happy users than driving them all away.)