Written by Internet

Some First Thoughts on the New Flickr

A new look Flickr has been unveiled today (or last night). It seems to be part of Marissa Meyer’s attempt to make Yahoo more relevant. And of course Yahoo has also just paid an awful lot of money for Tumblr. Yahoo is a company without the letter “e”.
What follows is based on some very limited time spent using the new look site, and what immediately comes to mind for someone like me. I should first say that I’ve been a Flickr user since 2005, and currently have upwards of 10,000 photos on the site. That doesn’t represent “all” my photos however. I tend to treat Flickr as a site to show off the photos I want made public or shareable. My own NAS archive has upwards of 100,000 photos to put that in perspective. And there are still many photos and negatives that don’t exist in digital form.
In general I find the new look better. Gone are the white spaces, and every centimetre of monitor space is handed over to photos. Perhaps it’s a tad over-zealous, but it’s better than what we had before, which seemed unchanged since I became a Flickr member.
Photos by default are now on a black background – a lightbox view. This works well with my photos, and I have no objections. However, I do think that users should be able to choose between white and black. If I were an illustrator, or use predominantly light/pale colours in my photos, white might suit them better.
I don’t actually mind too much that descriptions, tags, EXIF and comments are below the fold. Perhaps this will have a knock on effect with the community aspect of Flickr, but I still like the maximised use of space.
In places the new look feels a bit rushed. There are signs of the old website still here and there. If they really did rush this redesign then they’ve done well to make it as smooth as it is. There are some rough edges to be sanded off though. And a bit more flexibility from a user perspective wouldn’t go amiss.
The big thing is that they’ve giving everyone 1TB of space for their photos. There’s no two ways about it. This is a lot. They’ve done what Gmail did when they launched against Hotmail, and blow their rivals out of the water with regard to space. Google had only recently made a big issue about their unified 15GB of space. This is a clear retort to that.
But if everyone gets 1TB, then why would I pay for “unlimited” space? Well the “Pro” account is going. I’ve paid $25 a year for nearly my entire time on Flickr. And my 10,000 photos in JPG format wouldn’t take anything like that amount of space. So in many regards, the space doesn’t really matter because nobody (well, hardly anybody) is going to use it. But free does introduce ads. So Flickr is now offering a $50 option to go ad-free. I believe that I’ll be “grandfathered” on my $25 account – which includes stats as well. But would I pay $50 to remove ads? I’m not sure. And I’m not sure that Flickr would earn anything like that much from me. It feels a bit high, and I’m not sure I understand that part of the model.
I certainly don’t understand their “Doublr” option which gives me 2TB for $500! OK, anybody who needed that amount would clearly have more than 1TB and therefore be in the top 0.05% of users in terms of space used. But $500 is absurd. If you’re using that amount of space then you really shouldn’t be using Flickr for your photographic needs. In any case, there are much better options for that kind of storage in the cloud at much better prices. I can only assume it’s some kind of psychological device to make consumers believe that they’re getting $500 value for free with their first terabyte.
You would imagine that even now, Flickr engineers are making it very easy to send photos to Tumblr blogs (there is a Tumblr button already). The marketing message of the “1TB of data” seems to be that we upload every photo we have to Flickr rather than just our selects. Then sharing specific pictures to social media or a Tumblr blog is where we curate? In any case, say you have an interest in steam engines. In amongst your regular photos you probably have a few steam engine specific photos. Sharing those to Tumblr where your steam engine enthusiast friends can see them makes sense.
I must admit I’ve never quite “got” Tumblr. The long lists of people who “like” or “reblogged” things never entirely makes sense. And does “reblogged” mean “steal”? I’ll stick with this blog thanks!
Allied to all this, there’s a very decent upgrade to the Flickr Android app, and overall I’d say that they’re on the right path. I think the service still needs some tweaks and clean-up. But it’s heading in the right direction.
Whether coming weeks and months make me regret anything I’ve said here remains to be seen…
[Update] One more obvious problem is the constantly unclickable footer of the homepage! As you scroll down to click on it, more photos load. It needs to be moved!
And I’m a little confused about the whole “stats” thing. It’s being sold as something “Pros” get. But it’s not mentioned in any of the now available plans. So if I join up today and pay nothing, $50 or $500, it’s not clear that I get any stats. To be honest, I’m not sure that this should be considered that special! I’d expect any site to give me that kind of granularity. You get it on YouTube for example.