Last Wednesday I got an email from Yahoo! telling me that Yahoo! Video is changing. It was pretty clear by the end of the first sentence that what they really meant was ‘Yahoo! Video is closing.’ It dies in March. Meh. Does anyone actually use it? No one that I know of. It was dead already.
Then I started coming across blog posts and other news articles. It’s not just video that’s going. Delicious, the bookmarking site that they purchased about 5 years back is apparently doomed too, although recent stories suggest it may be sold instead. MyBlogLog and others Yahoo! acquisitions are also for the chop. Most of these products have something in common. They were fantastic, innovative, class leading and popular sites – until Yahoo! bought them.
Really, it’s a tragic story. Yahoo! has some great internet properties, they have the audience and are the world’s number one web based email supplier. Yet they have utterly failed to turn these strong products into a complete, consistent, all-in-one internet site. Yahoo! should have looked to McDonalds for inspiration. Go to any McDonalds in the world and you know what you’re getting. The same should be true at Yahoo!
No matter which of their sites you’re at it should have the same feel, be unmistakeably Yahoo! and it should all integrate together. There’s an easy method to do the latter. And they do have a navbar. Well, that’s the problem, actually. They have several. Instead, Yahoo! is nothing more than a collection of undeveloped/underdeveloped, scattered web properties.
But this isn’t the important part of this post. There’s one Yahoo! product where nothing has been said by Yahoo. It seems it’s not a ‘core product’, nor is it in the list of products awaiting the executioner. And it’s their best site. I’m talking, of course, about Flickr. The world’s premier photo sharing site.
Sure, Facebook has more snap shots on its servers. If low quality blurry snaps of pet cats sitting on a sofa are your thing, the Facebook photos is great! It has to be said the social part of photography is definitely a Facebook strong point, albeit from a friends and family sharing point of view. SmugMug is a nice looking site too, but they don’t get community, or social, lack the third party additions that Flickr can boast and really haven’t the sort of collections that you’d boast about. SmugMug can be slow and messy too.
So why the Yahoo! silence on Flickr? I’ll have a wild stab in the dark. A sale is already being worked on. With whom? Google have the cash, but then they also have Picasa, their own photo sharing site. I’d hope it doesn’t go to Google. They have a habit of doing ‘ugly’. That leaves Microsoft. And buying Flickr would be a logical move on their part. And one that I’d actually like to see happen.
Microsoft has made massive improvements to its online offering over the last couple of years and is moving in all the right directions. They already have a decent suite of photo software products, and recently revamped their mail/docs/photo/profile/messenger suite. But I dare say their photo facility is underused. Badly underused. Plugging flickr into it would make perfect sense.
It would also make perfect sense for them to acquire Flickr on four other counts as well, besides the fact that Yahoo! and Microsoft have been teaming up lately. Firstly, there is Bing, their search engine. It’s going from strength to strength, and integrating Flickr’s library more tightly would give them another plus point and advantage. Secondly, there are Bing Maps, which could also utilize Flickr’s library. Thirdly, as 10% owners of Facebook, and with increasing integration between Microsoft Live products and the social network site, gluing Flickr into the mix would just add to the attraction of both products.
Lastly, there is Windows Phone 7. Sales haven’t been overwhelming apparently. And yet the new OS has received decent reviews, and is a very worthy alternative to Android and iOS. It needs a killer app or two. Enter Flickr. Oh, and of course there is Xbox, which is also a media hub and would love some real tight Flickr love!
So what would be in it for me? Yahoo! can’t be trusted in my opinion to take Flickr much further, development wise. The company’s CEO, Carol Bartz, seems to be a clueless buffoon who doesn’t really understand what she is supposed to be doing. I don’t mean to be sexist, but if ever there was a piece of evidence to support the argument that women should stay at home to cook and clean – she is it.
I’d rather a large financially secure company take over Flickr. Microsoft fit that bill. They are also investing big into ‘cool’. Flickr is cool. I’m so deeply invested in Flickr, that I really need the company to survive and grow. Not only do I have a huge collection of photos there, but my blogs are full of images hotlinked straight from my Flickr account. I have my fingers crossed for a happy outcome.
PS. Microsoft Security Essentials 2 has just been released. I’ve been using it since the original beta a year or two ago. It’s an impressive anti-virus/security suite. Low drain on resources, well designed, easy to use and extremely effective. And free – I highly recommend it.