The future of Flickr is far from certain. With the photo-sharing site shedding visitors — the number of unique users fell 16 percent between December 2009 and December 2010 — rumors have been sweeping the web that Yahoo (which bought Flickr for a reported $35 million in 2005) will sell it or shut it down. Yahoo's product chief Blake Irving was forced to restate the company's intentions. "Is Yahoo committed to Flickr? Hell yes we are!" Irving tweeted on January 14. What's to blame for Flickr's fall from grace?
Facebook is stealing photo fans: Although Flickr was the "pioneer in combining photos with social networking features," says Verne G. Kopytoff in The New York Times, it's hard not to see its decline as the result of Facebook's emergence as the "popular destination for sharing party, vacation, and family snapshots." While Flickr was losing steam, use of Facebook's "increasingly competitive" photo features grew 92 percent.
"At Flickr, fending off rumors and Facebook"
Flickr hasn't courted amateur shutterbugs: Flickr's niche audience is professional photographers, says Molly McHugh at Digital Trends. But it's amateur photographers who are driving the demand for photo sharing, using "phone apps like Hipstamatic and Instagram" to get effects that professionals "slave" to achieve "with filters and expensive lenses." Flickr has failed to court this growing demographic.
"Yahoo claims it won't be ditching Flickr"
Yahoo's mismanagement is to blame: Flickr has failed to keep up with the times, says Nicholas Carlson at the Business Insider, by ignoring the cellphone market's needs. Other successful photography sites, Instagram included, allow you to "snap a photo with your iPhone or Android and upload it." Yahoo's "complacency" and "mismanagement" meant that Flickr "missed the boat on mobile" — and condemned itself to irrelevancy.
"Yahoo, not Facebook, is bleeding Flickr to death"