Last week one of the bigger rumors circulating the tech world was the idea that Yahoo would step into the video hosting game with a large percentage purchase of French based Dailymotion.
Well today came the word that Yahoo had walked away from any possible deal because French regulators wanted to limit the amount of the percentage that Yahoo could buy to only 50%. Needless to say Yahoo walked away from the deal, which was the right thing to do, but doing so has left them without a video play to compete against Google’s YouTube service.
Or has it?
Over at GigaOM, writer Janko Roettgers posted about some possible alternatives that Yahoo could look at but it was his last one that makes the most sense for the company.
In his post Janko suggests that services like Blip, Ustream, or Chinese video service PPLive are viable targets but he also pointed out, quite rightly, that the company already has a video serving service in its portfolio – Flickr.
While the majority of people think of Flickr as just an image serving service the fact is that it has also been serving up video for five years, the only problem is that very few people probably know that.
Now I should say that I am not a Flickr member and beyond visiting the service via links I have not spent much time on the service and as such I don’t think of Flickr when I think of video. However that doesn’t mean that with the right support from the Yahoo mothership that this perception couldn’t be changed.
Therein lies the biggest problem that Flickr has – perception, not to mention the fact that it was largely ignored until most recently by Yahoo. Sort of the ugly step-daughter that no-one wanted to acknowledge.
Thomas Hawk, an excellent photographer (and one of my favorites), has documented many of the problems that Flickr has faced over the years, some self-induced (heavy-handed moderating of the comments for one) and some from new, and very serious competitors like 500px, Google+, and Facebook.
The thing is that none of those problems are insurmountable, especially if you throw money and talent at; both of which Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer appears to be willing to commit to. After all she was willing to cough up $300 million for a percentage of Dailymotion. So why not use that same amount of money and spend it on Flickr.
The fact that she would be willing to spend that kind of money to improve and already existing company property would go a long way to bolster company morale, not to mention raise the Flickr brand.
Like I said earlier, the biggest problem facing Flickr, even as just an image hosting service, is perception; and regardless of the recent improvements to the service it is still perceived as nothing more than an old and tired web property.
As much as Flickr’s redesign back in February might have stalled user exodus to other newer, and better services, the fact is that this segment of our online lives is still hot with competition which means that Flickr needs to improve and expand much faster than in the past.
This expansion, and improvement, could, and should, include Flickr’s video hosting service after all why let an already recognized brand go to waste. Brand wise Flickr still holds some cache which with some serious promotion (and money) could be rescued from web oblivion; and quite easily take on other services like YouTube.
One other area where Flickr might be one up on YouTube is the community built up around Flickr; but as Thomas Hawk has pointed out more than a few times Flickr still has a way to go before it really understands our new social world. It is more than just share buttons and likes, and their heavy-handed attitude of the past just won’t going forward.
It will be interesting to see, going forward, what Yahoo is going to do in the video arena, but I also believe that instead of throwing money away outside of the company they would be much better off spending that cash on what they already have.