I was out of it (pretty literally) Monday with flu-like symptoms. Having slept away most of the day, I woke up to find that Flickr had released a new design and some new policies.
And as usual, there’s much gnashing and grinding of teeth going on. Like that’s a surprise, right?
Tested has a good summary of the changes.
I happen to really like the new design (not everyone agrees). If you look at the design I put on my site galleries, it’s obvious I like the gridded, flowing look. Some have tagged it the “instagram” look, which probably makes sense. In any event, I give the new design a thumbs up.
The new pricing and policies? I’m not sure how well they’re thought out. Those of us who were pro accounts get to keep them — for now. How long? maybe forever, maybe not. it’s unclear. The new pricing has ad removal at about $50 a year. that’s twice what pro accounts cost for less functionality, and while I think flickr should have been adjusting the pricing of pro accounts along the way, this sudden jump, especially compared to grandfathered pro accounts, seems weird. And it creates conflicts. They would have been better off making the new tier have the same functionality as pro accts (stats being a big piece for many of us), so make it a single tier with a grandfathered price for the users who stuck by Flickr through the past. that would have been an easier sell. I think what they did both doesn’t make complete sense (at least to me) and is tough to explain/justify. it’s not clean or simple.
And then Marissa Meyer goes off and says “there are no such thing as professional photographers any more”, and pisses off all of the professional photographers out there.
Ouch. I’m guessing what she really was trying to get across was that photo sites aren’t being built for the pro photographer, which is widely true, especially for a site like Flickr. And that as a percentage of people shooting photos, the pro segment is a lot smaller than it was five years ago.
But that’s not what she said. And what she said? Well, it may be that the pro segment is smaller and not as significant in their user base, but that group is a strong influencer on the rest of the photography population, and it’s never smart to piss off the influencers. So right now, what could have been a really positive moment for Flickr has been taken off onto a side trip through grumpy-land that should have been easily avoided, all through what seems to be careless word choice. And frankly, even if true, the point she made didn’t need to be made at all.
So the rollout’s a mixed blessing. The design is great. The new pricing structure is muddled. And the new CEO took what should have been the first really great PR moment of her tenure — the purchase of Tumblr and the revitalization of Flickr — and fumbled it.
And that kinda sums up Yahoo, doesn’t it? Even when they do the right thing, they still get it kinda wrong.
But I’m glad I went back to Flickr — the redesign tells me that was the right decision. And for now, I’m sticking with my pro account. I expect there will be tweaks and clarifications to the membership and pricing levels.
I really, really hope Yahoo PR is paying attention to the blunder of pissing off their influencers here and are working on helping her fix that rift. This has a real potential to fester and cause problems if they ignore it.
Update 5/23: Marissa Mayer has popped up on her Twitter account and apologized for her poor choice of words. Even better is that her explanation sounds sincere, not contrived, and that it looks like it’s really Mayer doing the twitter responses, not some PR person doing it for her. And she’s reaching out to many of the people who sent her complaints and responding to them all directly.
That really helps me feel good about how this is all going to settle out.