Saturday 25 May 2013

Backwards going forwards

It has been quite a week for Yahoo. In a fevered burst of activity this week, they purchased Tumblr for just over $1 billion to inherit the younger audience that apparently congregates there. Then, to top it all off, they decide, after years of neglect, to revamp Flickr which Yahoo themselves modestly state is 'almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world.' Well maybe.

The Tumblr purchase annoyed quite a few people who hadn't forgotten Yahoo's lackadaisical attitude to appropriating new website services. Just like a young child given a new pet, Yahoo do have a reputation for being very enthusiastic towards their new 'pets' only to loose interest later. I rather like Tumblr and was relieved to hear that the service will remain independent of Yahoo. How long that promise will last though is anyone's guess. I expect that adverts and maybe even a paid Tumblr Plus account may appear in time.

The real story of the week, however, was the Flickr upgrade that was spectacular in a number of  ways by wowing and horrifying photographers in equal measure. I've started to get used to the new design but the business model does leave me wondering how Flickr will make money for Yahoo. The old model had the Flickr Pro account that delivered a few extra perks for those who signed up to it. There was an incentive to pay for a Pro account but not now. All the great bits are now free including the one full terabyte of storage, full resolution images and many of the old Flickr Pro perks. Great... but what about upgrading revenues?

The old Flickr Pro users have been looked after... well at least most of them have. Those lucky enough to have an eligible pro account keep the current $25 rate of renewal. Newcomers to Flickr will have to pay more and here is where Yahoo's upgrade model looks weird. The paid format in place is not at all appealing. Fifty dollars gets you no adverts. That's it! No extra space or cool features. With a significant jump from $25 to $50 it's hardly a compelling deal! Why upgrade? Most people will just choose to stick with the generous free options and live with the adverts that, to be honest, are barely noticeable.

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