Flickr, changing the game

Earlier today Flickr released the new version of its site (take a look at that link, it’s really well done).  It has a potential to be a real game changer.  Free accounts will now receive 1TB of storage, replacing the previous 200 photo limit.  If you pay enough ($499) you can double it.

This reminds me of the Gmail launch back in 2004 and what seemed at the time to be a ludicrous amount of free storage, 1GB (for reference, flickr is offering 1000 times that).  Gmail changed the face of email forever, and the level of storage offered was a part of that.  Gmail forced other email providers to up their game, and I wonder who services like 500px will react to today’s news (I believe 500px offers unlimited storage but with a limit on its free accounts that restrict how many photos per week can be uploaded).

criticised flickr a few weeks ago for its design, and they’ve addressed this as well.  They’ve really put images front and centre.  The massive storage being offered presents the opportunity to use flickr as a photo vault, where you can back up your photos off site.  I have over 1TB of images in my collection, but with some moderate pruning I’m sure can upload them over the course of a few weeks.

One thing flickr needs to be wary of is the needs of their core audience.  People use flickr for something that isn’t covered by the likes of FaceBook or Instagram.  It tends to be for the more serious photographer.  A few years ago it was a great place to share content with like minded people, get feedback and make connections.  Unfortunately it hasn’t been that place for a while.  Take a look at the Explore section and compare it to 500px’s.  The gap in quality is staggering, especially considering the relative size of the user bases.

What’s particularly interesting is the timing of this release.  It was just yesterday that cynical commentators warned of Yahoo! breaking Tumblr.  This is clearly an attempt to reassure Tumblr. users that this is a new Yahoo! and they’re not going to break or neglect the services people love.