What if Flickr Fails?
Doc Searls has an insightful blog post asking the question, “what if Flickr fails?” More specifically, as I read it, what happens to *us* if Flickr fails? Like Doc I’ve got over 50,000 photos of mine online at Flickr. I’ve invested thousands of hours (literally) over the past five years in maintaining my account there. I frequently worry that with Flickr’s policy of unwarned and unexplained account deletions that I may wake up one morning and fine my *own* account deleted. Doc references the recent account deletion of Deepra Praven who lost a huge amount of her Flickr life when her account was deleted but seems to worry even more about Yahoo’s long-term ability to keep Flickr going in part based at least on online advertising revenue.
“Still, even if blame for the deletion ends up falling at least partly on Deepa (which I hope it does not, and have no reason yet to think it should), one’s exposure on Flickr goes up with the sum of photos one puts there. And the greater risk is not of Flickr’s deletion of customers, but of the market’s deletion of Flickr. Because, after all, Flickr is a business and no business lasts forever. Least of all in the tech world.”
Although I think Flickr is probably fine (and profitable) in the short-term, you do have to wonder if at some point in the longer-term future Flickr might not end up being “sunsetted” as they seem to call it these days.
Doc suggests that maybe what is needed at this point is “that the entrepreneurs and VCs out there will start seeing value in new open-Web start-ups, rather than the ad-funded and silo’d ones that are still fashionable today.”
Maybe it’s time for a new more open version of Flickr. I know I’d support it. It would need a tremendous amount of will though from the community, a lot of money, the right engineering/design talent, and a ton of passion and commitment to a more open way of sharing our photos and interacting together as a photosharing community. Getting the crowd to move isn’t always easy, but guys like Doc and Dave Winer are pretty well connected and if they could get the right people behind something, well, it just might have a chance.
By the way, I got a facebook email back today from Deepra who told me that she finally got an email response back from Flickr regarding her request for an explanation as to why her account was deleted. Unfortunately though it was simply a blank email with nothing in it. I do hope they get back to her quickly and let her know what happened and why her account is now gone.