My name is John. I have been a Flickr user for eight years. Like many subscribers, my initial reaction to the changes was utter dismay. This is gradually giving way to a resignation that is rooted in some observations and interpretations of these events.
Yahoo! owns Flickr. Yahoo display ad revenue was down 11% in the first quarter report. That must have alarmed the Board who in turn, I’m sure, lit a fire under CEO Marissa Mayer.
Advertisers want eyeballs. They especially want a targeted demographic who are easily influenced and have disposable income. Teens with iPads and smart phones would be nice.
Buying tumblr was the first step. Changing Flickr from a subscriber-based photography site to an ad platform for everyone who snaps pictures is the second step. A free terabyte for everyone makes a nice memorable headline.
The Yahoo annual shareholder meeting is coming up soon on June 25. Marissa Mayer announced that the entire Flickr transformation happened in less than 8 weeks. The shareholders will be able to hear great news about how ad revenue might have previously declined but the situation is being addressed with these changes.
I feel sorry for the Flickr software engineers who were under that whip for the last two months cranking out this panic-driven band-aid. I’m sure they are trying to catch up on their sleep.
Petitions are fine, but the complaints already number over 21,000 on the official Flickr thread. I think Yahoo execs can see the collective dismay. I also think they knew it would happen and aren’t surprised. I cancelled my Pro Subscription and got a refund the next day. They were definitely prepared for outrage.
Now I have a free account but I don’t care about ads. I use Firefox with Ad Blocker and haven’t seen any ads yet. When I signed in with IE, I got a Home Depot ad on the right side column.
I really hope Flickr survives. Yahoo has a very tough uphill battle against Google and I honestly don’t think they will ever become #1. (When was the last time you used a Yahoo!™ search or other product besides Flickr? … and tumblr doesn’t count.)
I have pitched my tent over at http://www.ipernity.com/home/johnking and lots of Flickr refugees are camping there too. It’s a site for photographers and the presentation quality is first rate. I don’t know if it will provide the level of conversation and inspiration that I’ve enjoyed at Flickr over the past 8 years. There are some amazing photographers on flickr whose work and commentary provides nutrition.
I will continue to use Flickr but I don’t ever expect it to go back to where it was. The bulldozers have moved in, the shopping mall is underway.