Soon after Marissa Mayer became chief executive of Yahoo!, a few of Flickr’s faithful begged her to save the online photo-sharing site. Last month, their prayers were answered: from now on, every Flickr account will offer one terabyte of free photo storage – 1,000 gigabytes of space, which is considerably more than any offer made by the competition. The design has also been revamped, while its cellphone applications have undergone a serious facelift.
But these changes are puzzling some users, who had already moved their picture albums to other online communities, as well as people who have never used Flickr before.
While Instagram remains the main forum for online photo sharing, it would be more appropriate to compare Yahoo!’s new-and-improved photo service with Google+, 500px or Facebook. What all these platforms have in common is that they allow users to publish entire albums, not just individual images. Let us analyze the strong and weak points of Flickr’s three main competitors:
Google+. If there is a community that finds Google+ more attractive than other mortals do, that would be the photographer community. It is no coincidence that Google recently organized a Photographer’s Conference in San Francisco to promote the service.
Flickr’s announcement surely caused a ripple of concern at Google
Flickr’s announcement no doubt caused a ripple of concern at Google, which charges $49.99 for a terabyte of storage for images with a resolution higher than 2,048 pixels. The latest developments will surely be taken into account by professionals who use these online services to store their work in the cloud.
But Google+ still has advantages, such as letting users directly upload RAW files, or 15-minute videos in Full HD (Flickr sets a three-minute limit). This is something that is highly valued by people who want to store all their audiovisual material in one place.
On the other hand, a recent study shows that Google+ is the social network that makes the least alterations to the files that are uploaded to it, since it keeps the original metadata (a kind of digital label with copyright, technical and other kinds of information) intact.
500px. For a while, some people viewed 500px as the photo-sharing site that would grab hegemony away from Flickr among the photography community. But several issues have prevented 500px from growing. A major one is the fact that it does not accept videos. Another is the lack of online forums for the community, something that Flickr offers.
The folks at 500px focus mainly on showing off people’s portfolios and letting them sell directly to anyone. The annual $25 fee for unlimited storage space is an attractive offer, although this amount rises to $75 for a personal domain and personalized portfolios.
Facebook. No other social network stores as many photographs as Facebook, not by a long shot. Its main innovation on the photography front was being able to add tags to the individuals who appear in shots, a tool that was later copied by the competition.
Even though the albums only allow photographs that are 2,048 pixels or under along their longest side, no other network offers the possibility of reaching so many other people.
It remains unclear whether Instagram will merge into Facebook, or when the company will make its Facebook Camera app available worldwide, which allows users to browse through their contacts’ new photos on their phones. In any case, it seems obvious that photography will become increasingly relevant on Mark Zuckerberg’s website.