The Flame That Flickr’d Out

Before Instagram there was Flickr.

I chose to evaluate Flickr because I am interested in photography and enjoy using a similar social networking app, Instagram. I remember using Flickr during my middle school years. However, I was not using Flickr to share images I had captured, but to store my photos due to limited storage on my phone. Now that I’m a little older and have become more serious about photography, I can see how Flickr would appeal to a person wishing to share their work with a like-minded and photo-centric community. Nevertheless, Flickr’s reluctance to evolve with its users and other social networks has attributed to its decline in audience.

Flickr is an image and video hosting website developed in Canada by Ludicorp in the year 2004. And it is considered to have pioneered image sharing as a form of social media. Flickr released when there were no other digital photo-centric websites like it, establishing its significance in social media history. It was created the same year as MySpace and Facebook. While both MySpace and Facebook were essentially groundbreaking at the time for their ways of connecting people online, they did not prioritize sharing and uploading photos; Flickr occupied this particular space.

For the first time, people could upload pictures they had taken on their compact cameras or DSLRs to their computer and then post them onto Flickr for virtually anyone to see. Flickr made it easy for users to write captions and organize photos into albums or galleries.

Flickr paved the way for a similar photo-sharing app, Instagram. Instagram is a much more popular social media app that has evolved from just sharing snapshots to something wholly new and unexpected — influencer media. It seems that Flickr is still holding on. However, it has had a difficult time establishing a dedicated “space” in the constantly changing world of Social Media. Those who are still active on Flickr use it to publish high-quality photographs they have taken.

Over the years, the company has changed hands several times. It was owned and powered by Yahoo in 2005 and was under Yahoo’s ownership until 2010. During the years that Yahoo ran the site, it was generally full of users who were serious about photography and uploading photos taken on physical cameras. However, smartphones were becoming more widespread, and phones’ camera quality was increasing with each year. Soon, most images uploaded to Flickr were taken using smartphones instead of actual cameras. With the increased popularity and availability of smartphones, there was a rise in Social Networks. For example, Instagram was created in 2010 and was attracting Flickr users for its expedited approach to image sharing at the start of its establishment. Yahoo failed to change and keep Flickr relevant, losing users to the new and improved networks.

SmugMug most recently bought Flickr. SmugMug united with Flickr in hopes of bringing the two photographic central websites together. The union has resulted in little to no improvements to users’ overall morale. Current Flickr users are frustrated that they can only upload 1,000 Images without paying a monthly fee. If Flickr does not make strives to become relevant soon, a once innovative community may flicker out completely.


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