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So long Flickr and thanks for all the fish!

10 Mar 2016

Sometimes a corporate group-think can lead to some pretty silly decisions. This time it appears that struggling Internet player, Yahoo, has got it all wrong.

Their subsidiary, Flickr, was once the go-to option for backing digital photos up to the cloud. Installing a small app on your PC meant that photos in nominated folders got uploaded and stored.

When it comes to business models, Flickr appeared to have all the makings of a sure-fire bet. Most people place a high value on photos - after all they’re irreplaceable. Backing up digital photos just makes a ton of sense. If your house was burnt down or another form of disaster was to hit, you’d lose all those precious memories.

Trouble is the devil is in the detail. Flickr was free. It was most likely subsidised by more profitable Yahoo services (is there such a thing?). Free and unlimited photo storage unfortunately creates huge storage and bandwidth costs. The tough question facing Yahoo with Flickr was this: How do we cover costs and make a buck?

In generating an answer to this, Yahoo's board embarked on some bizarre form of group-think. In the end they decided to charge users for uploading photos. Flickr users now have to pay a subscription fee of US$49.95 to use the Flickr Upload utility.

If Flickr were the only game in town, people would have grizzled, most would've paid up. Trouble is (for Flickr) that they’re not the only game in town offering such a service. The Google Photo app will back up photos off of an Android phone. Oh, and it is also free.

By ignoring the rest of the market Yahoo have managed to score another own goal. So long Flickr, it’s been nice knowing you.

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