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Web 3.0 and Flickr

Posted on Tuesday, May 22nd 2007

Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield of Ludicorp, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based Company launched Flickr in February 2004. Flickr is a photo-sharing site, which allows users to search, upload, create photo albums and share them with community members. Flickr has 17 million unique monthly visitors. The company was taken over by Yahoo in March 2005. Flickr has over 8 million registered users with over 500 million photos.

Flickr has won multiple Webby awards in 2007, including Best Navigation / Structure, Best Practices and Breakout of the Year award. Yahoo!, recently announced that it will merge its Yahoo! Photos with Flickr and terminate Yahoo! Photos. Flickr has two account options, Free and Pro, is very well organized and easy to navigate and has a very pleasant look.

We have started discussing the photo sharing industry at a high level, and here we will take a look at Flickr’s offering from a Web 3.0 perspective.

Flickr is a photo-sharing site and has a public database of photos and images categorized into “Most Views”, “Most Favorited”, “Most Comments” and “Most Interesting”. The site allows photos to be viewed as slideshow and users can develop their personal profile and create groups.

The tagging facility is excellent and I really like the ability to organize a set of photos under a theme. Flickr has got its context bang on and the geo tagging capability allows users to search for photos across the globe, especially those that users would not have otherwise discovered easily. However, there is a pretty significant map spam issue coming up on this, not to be ignored.

One thing that I find unsatisfactory, however, is that Flickr has Fine Art Photography, Travel Photography, Family Photos. When I do a search on the Himalayas, I don’t really care to see some family pictures of random tourists against the Kanchenjungha, but rather, I want to see great pictures of mountains, mountain people, wildlife.

On the other hand, sites like Geni attempt to capture photosharing in the context of geneology, where family photos are the essence. Family photos are also the essence when they’re being shared within a private group. But randomly, one doesn’t care to see family photos of strangers.

These are examples of Contexts where Flickr leaves something to be desired.

Flickr offers a free membership including monthly uploads up to 20 MB, photostream views of 200 most recent images, three albums and displays up to 100 photos at a time.

Flickr with its advanced tools offers multiple options for photo uploading. Up to 100 Images can be uploaded at a time in single or batches on Windows XP, 2000, ME and 98, Flickr Uploadr for Mac OS X 10.3 or higher, 1001 for Mac OS X and iPhoto plugins for Mac OS X. Photos can be uploaded by Windows XP Explorer, email or camera–phone using ShoZu or Nokia Lifeblog.

Flickr offers a Pro Account priced at $25 annually with unlimited storage, and thus monetizes its entirely user-generated content.

Flickr allows its users to create and showcase their own Flickr products made of photographs, like photobooks, toys, calendars, cards, t-shirts, postage stamps. These products are produced and sold by partners such as Zazzle, Imagekind, MOO, QOOP.

I would have been happier if I could offer my work to other users and earn royalty from it.

Also, Flickr does not have elaborate printing services, unlike Shutterfly, Kodak Gallery, etc. where I can order prints online (as well as a whole array of other photo merchandise). Basic prints can be ordered within the US. Flickr could also consider retailing cameras, video and DVD recorders through its site, but thus far, it seems like Flickr is avoiding transactional e-commerce altogether, and puts everything through affiliates.

Flickr has amazing community features. Users can upload their photographs, rate photographs, add tags to public photos or interact with like minded Flickr members by forming groups or adding contacts or post comments on discussion boards.

The Creative Commoners section enables users to offer their works to be utilized for non-commercial non-derivative use. Of course, I can choose people who can use my work and the users of my photo can acknowledge me as the creator. Flickr allows users to create photosets, which are online photo albums, for their friends, family or preferred groups to see as slideshow or simply browse through them.

Flickr does not compel you to become a member and allows you to explore the site before you become a member. One just needs to have a Yahoo! Mail id to be a Flickr member. I have my customized page giving me details of the photographs uploaded, no of explores, my groups, contacts, which of my community members are online, my public vs private photos. Flickr allows privacy with options like “control image access”, an essential feature.

Flickr also allows me to keep my favorite photo links in so as to access them from anywhere and share them with my family, friends, and colleagues.

What I don’t see is a personalized recommendation feature. Or did I miss it?

Vertical Search
Flickr allows users to search photos by photographer, tag, time, text, group, camera, and yes, by places. Flickr allows me to search by interesting options like creative commons, popular tags, last 7 days, and This month. It also offers multiple choices for photograph sizes, square, and thumbnail, medium, large. I would prefer more options, including portrait, landscape, humanity, travel, etc. although some of this can be accomplished through the extremely intelligent tagging capabilities.

I also liked the “Camera Finder” segment. It tracks the most popular camera and camera phones among the Flickr users. It is a good way of tracking the popularity of cameras and camera phones among the Flickr community. It also reviews the popular cameras and provides detailed features through its integration with Yahoo! Shopping.

Flickr Camera Finder

Business Model
Subscription is the main source of revenue for Flickr. The photo-sharing site has entered into a direct alliance with social networking browser, Flock. This may play a significant role in online sharing of resource and media and receiving content updates and search.

With an Alexa rank of 43, Flickr is fast growing as a photo-sharing site that also serves as a social network and photography-afficionado destination. According to Hitwise, Flickr has 4.5% market share of the photo uploading and sharing market.

Web 3.0 Rating: Context: A-; Content: A+; Community: A+; Commerce: B-; Personalization: A-; Vertical Search A-; Overall Rating: A

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Splendid review.
Your 4C+P+V.S concept is highly focused and a necessity, for a success, in a Web 3.0 perspective.

Pawan Sahay Tuesday, May 22, 2007 at 5:32 PM PT

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