My annual Flickr subscription is up for renewal in August. I’ve been using Flickr since late 2005 and I purchased a Pro account in 2006, so I’m pretty invested in the site – 8,224 photos in 456 sets. But there are aspects of Flickr I’m not all that happy about, and I did start investigating using Google+, through the Picasa backend, a couple of months ago. My investigations lead me to buying a $20 storage upgrade which gives me 80gb of space. That’s plenty to play with once the 21 odd gigs of photos I’ve got have finished uploading.
There’s a lot to like about Picasa/Google+. The Picasa software has become my preferred photo management software. I still use Adobe Lightroom to import, edit and export my snaps to my photo folder. But Picasa is great for keeping the collection organised, to geo-tag it and to upload it. Google+ displays photos very nicely indeed. And lastly, Google have a Data Liberation feature that enables you to get all your content back onto your local hard drive. It is possible to do that with Flickr, but you have to wade through so many broken apps before you find one that will do the job. Or pay for an app which may or may not work. Or pay Qoop to send you it all on DVD’s for a small fortune. It’s a very frustrating process.
But it has become apparent that Google’s photo offering has its own shortcomings. Shortcomings where Flickr excels. Flickr’s Organiser is a powerful way to manage, organise and edit photos. My sets are in the order I want them to be. Google has no such facility so all my albums are in a completely random order. Flickr does it all in a single box. Google uses the ugly Picasa to do the hard work in the background, and you need to switch to Google+ to see the results in an aesthetic environment. Flickr also has a community which is second to none. It’s a great place to go if you’re researching cameras or want to check out new photographic techniques.
I had thought I might not be renewing my Flickr sub this year, and just use the free, limited version. But Google just hasn’t done enough and their product isn’t quite up to scratch, despite having some very nice features. For the next year I’ll use both. My photos are important to me. I like the idea of having a double back up, especially with one site that makes it easy to get the content back. But whether I’ll continue to pay out two annual subs is debatable. My loyalty can’t be taken for granted. If Google can sort out the issues I’ve mentioned, then I’d consider using them as my sole online photo portfolio.
My custom remains Flickr’s to lose though. They desperately need new leadership. Yahoo, who own Flickr, have the stench of a sinking ship about them. I’s referred to Carol Bartz as a clueless buffoon before, but getting rid of her as CEO was just the first step. They need to replace her with someone competent. even better would be selling Flickr to a company with the ability to invest money and people, and the desire and ambition to take on such a great product and ensure it keeps ahead of the competition. I still hold out hope for Microsoft putting in an offer.
My final thought, is where Google+ itself is heading. My opinion, at this moment in time, is that it’s heading for the Google Dustbin. It simply isn’t catching on with the average Joe. It’s playing catch up in a game where its main rival long passed the finishing line. It isn’t new enough, innovative enough nor does it feature enough apps to really even compete. It’s already dead in the water. Yet another Google flop. Unless they have a seriously impressive ace up their sleeves. My hope at this point would be that they take the best from Google+ and marry it with the best of Picasa, and make the improvements needed to turn it into a competitive photo sharing site.