Flickr: ‘the future is bright’

Flickr, a photo sharing platform which was once a big deal, may swing back into relevance after being acquired by SmugMug, an image sharing and online portfolio design platform.

‘The future is bright’, says SmugMug CEO, Don MacAskill, who plans to breathe new life into Flickr.

Flickr’s previous owner was Yahoo, which was sold to multinational corporation Verizon last year.

Changing hands from Verizon, a multinational with no interest in photography, to SmugMug, an independent family-owned business specialising in premium online portfolio design and image sharing, does come across as favourable.

MacAskill probably cares more about photography than the CEO of Yahoo, and may develop the service to better meet photographers’ demands.

‘Uniting the SmugMug and Flickr brands will make the whole photography community stronger and better connected,’ said MacAskill. ‘Together, we can preserve photography as the global language of storytelling.’

However, MacAskill has no clue how this will come about.

‘I don’t know what the future holds. This is a new model for me,’ he told USA Today. ‘We certainly think we need to operate it with an eye to our cash flow and our profitability. We are going to have to take a detailed look at the business and make sure it’s growing and healthy.

‘It sounds silly for the CEO not to totally know what he’s going to do, but we haven’t built SmugMug on a master plan either. We try to listen to our customers and when enough of them ask for something that’s important to them or to the community, we go and build it.’

There’s no merger planned – both platforms will operate as standalone service. However, Flickr will migrate onto SmugMug’s technology infrastructure, and all its users’ photos are part of this migration, along with a new terms of service they must agree with. Flickr users have a month to delete their account if they don’t want their account information to go to SmugMug.

Flickr was once the dominant photo sharing platform.

A worldwide community of photographers from a range of styles and abilities flocked to Flickr, an original online image sharing forum to connect and inspire each other.

Since 2005 the photo sharing and hosting service was owned by Yahoo.

As social media apps like Instagram emerged, and technology shifted to mobile devices, Flickr gradually lost its cool.

Management changes at Flickr stifled development and innovation. And Yahoo lost interest in the platform.

The market-leader of online photo sharing quickly lost its relevance, and many users moved on.

Flickr still has a dedicated following, partly thanks to a free terabyte of storage and high resolution image hosting.

It’s a shadow of the thriving community of yesteryear, but the platform still boasts more than 75 million registered photographers. According to comScore, it received 13.1 million unique visitors in March – up from 10.8 million a year earlier.

When Yahoo was acquired by Verizon in 2017, Flickr went with it. Verizon began selling Yahoo assets, which is how Flickr ended up in the hands of SmugMug.


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