December 27th, 2012
Danny Nicolas has been keeping up with my Flickr commentary of late about how Flickr should create a more affordable, less feature-rich account type and he has a few things to add:
I feel as if most people currently paying for Flickr Pro don’t take advantage of all the features offered. I might even go in the other direction and have the current Flickr Pro offering become the mid-size account, and offer a more expensive Business account that doesn’t have file size or video limitations.
My main argument for why I think Flickr should make a scaled-down account is more about price than about features. I was a paying Flickr Pro user for many years, as was my wife, and we never utilized the account to the full. Though I’m sure more serious photographers do. However, in today’s market of mobile apps and the services that power them, most people will not pay $24 a year to share photos with their friends. And I don’t think the Instagram generation needs Flickr Pro. But I do think they’d pay enough to make it worth Flickr’s while to create a more affordable account with less features.
Creating a Premium account is an interesting idea and is always on the table for SaaS platforms. But I don’t think that is the right strategy for Flickr. I doubt there are many members that are pining for more features or space or video capabilities. They can go elsewhere for video. I believe there is a goldmine of brand new users that are dabbling with Instagram – to the tune of tens of millions perhaps – that would love a few extra features that Instagram simply does not provide (stats, groups, sets, etc.) and all Flickr has to do is price the account just right, and market it properly, in order to suck them all in.
Whatever their strategy for success may be, Flickr must evade further stagnation in order to be competitive. They can’t ignore and leave new markets wide open like they did with mobile. They have the opportunity to become a powerful weapon in the hands of Yahoo.
It is amazing to me that so many people see Instagram as Flickr’s failing. But it is obvious. The people that were the innovators in photo sharing missed the boat. I think the problem is that Flickr became a business very quickly after joining Yahoo! It went from being an innovative product that was really trying to solve problems to a business that needed to make money and innovation sort of was pushed to the side. And the fact that we didn’t hear anything from Flickr for years was mind-boggling. I have no idea what they’ve been doing for the last few years.
Danny nailed it when he mentioned cannibalization. Some of the things Flickr should have done over the last several years were no doubt thought of and even sketched out but perhaps decided against for that very reason. They didn’t want to lose current customers. But they may have to do just that in order to grow again.
Yahoo! needs to invest in Flickr. They need to let the team know they can take chances again. They can try and fail and try again. They need resources, talent, and a someone with a clear vision to run the entire thing.
If Marisa runs Flickr like she ran search at Google Flickr will succeed. If she runs it the way Google+, Buzz, and Wave was run she won’t. And there is a subtle difference between the two approaches. Google+, Buzz, and Wave were innovations, no doubt, but without any real value or use case that was obvious. I remember trying Wave for the first time and having no idea what it was for. The products were perhaps a little too innovative. Instagram isn’t so much an innovation as it a well-designed simple solution that brings delight to people every day. Google search is a well-designed (seemingly) simple solution that brings an amazing amount of value to people every day. Flickr should aim for one of those; delight or value. I’d pick delight.