News yesterday from TechCrunch that Yahoo is shutting down Yahoo! Photos and hoping that the existing user base migrates to flickr. Even though Yahoo! has a massive number of images, flickr is clearly the more sticky site, and is the type of nimble company that Yahoo! needs to bring signs of life back to the company since Google has been kicking them around like an old tire.
The problem with flickr? It’s just not clear what its business is. We’ve all heard rumors of commercialization possibilities, which are undoubtedly in the works (See Daryl Lang’s PDN article). And it’s clear from threads like this and this one from the Strobist, that something has to be done to avoid large companies from ripping off community members.
But will all these efforts have a meaningful impact on Yahoo!’s bottom line?
I think it’s a great decision. Flickr is a social networking site for photos, whereas Yahoo! Photos was just a delivery mechanism. So Yahoo! is going down the right path of enhancing the community. And more importantly, I like the fact that they retained flickr’s identity, and didn’t try a forced integration into the Yahoo! framework.
And what is the impact for sites like PhotoShelter? Nothing. Unless flickr has the intention of doing something other than microstock (which I have a hard time believing), they will be competitive with sites like iStockPhoto, fotolia, and my personal favorite microstock site, Lucky Oliver. On the other hand, we think all serious photographers on flickr that desire to make money should use PhotoShelter with fotoQuote.
On the other hand, by virtue of their size, they could also be the biggest threat (or opportunity) to stock photography ever. We always knew this would get interesting.