Why did Flickr stop innovating?

Image representing Flickr as depicted in Crunc...
Why aren’t you better?

I’ve been a big flickr fan for years.  I take a lot of photos and that’s always been my favorite spot to put them.  Flickr‘s been great at pioneering the 2.0 photo experience. They were the first to have a photostream view – not just albums. And they were the first to have tags which allow you to organize your photos in a better way.  However, they haven’t done much lately.  Sure, they added videos which is GREAT but that’s about it.  The look hasn’t changed, there aren’t many new features and i feel that they are getting out developed by facebook’s photo experience and Google‘s Picasa.   Sure those sites have different goals for their photo experience but at least they are moving forward. What’s Flickr done for me lately? Nothing.

Both Facebok and Picasa allow you to specifically name who is in each photo. Facebook does this by “tagging” a photo with a user and Picasa does this by analyzing the faces in the photos.  Both are brain dead simple to use and are really slick.  I’ve always used Flickr’s tags to do this with thier photos but i’d like to more specifically associate a photo with a user.

I also think that Flickr could make the “editing” of photo metadata easier.  The order a picture shows up in your photostream is effectively the date you took it – but if you upload a photo much later, you have to go back and manually adjust the dates so it appears in the right spot. Flickr has always made title and description editing amazingly simply by keeping it in-line but adjusting the date and privacy of a photo still takes you to another page.  Why can’t they make that easier? Same thing with setting a group of photos to a later date. This is too hard to do.

The bottom line is that i still love Flickr but i feel that it’s getting stagnant.  i’m starting to think that Flickr has officially become a Yahoo company and not a nimble startup.  And i don’t want to hitch my wagon to something that is in maintenance mode.  I knew this day would come and i think the day might finally be here. I think i could say the same about delicious too.  That site could have been much bigger than it is.

I’m wondering now – where should my photos go? What’s going to be be even better.  I don’t like how Picasa is only albums but i do like how they are at least getting better and better.  Is there a 3.0 photo experience that i can use?

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New Microsoft Services

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Image via CrunchBase

I’ve been pretty anti-microsoft for a while because it seems that they always miss the boat.  However, they do have LOTS of cash (40+ billion) and a huge development force.  Becauase of this i was surprised they didn’t get more press for the news they spit out last week.  Four big things appeared out of last week’s Professional Developer Conference (PDC):

  1. They announced Azure, a set of cloud services that competes with Amazon’s S3.  Another big player will really solidify the category.
  2. They showed off Windows 7 which is getting high good hype from the blogosphere.
  3. They showed off new Web-based versions of Microsoft Office that were really nice.  They are really late here but if they can get up to parity with Zoho they could dominate
  4. They also released new Mac and Mobile versions of Mesh and further explained how that’ll enable new kinds of Internet-connected apps to be built.

All in all it was a HUGE week for Microsoft. I just don’t know why nobody noticed.  It is because we’re all Mac fanboys and want them to fail (I know i do)?  What do you think?

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Analysis of Chrome

A few weeks ago Google release a product called Chrome which is their own web browser. Only it is really so much more. At first it doesn’t look like much – and it isn’t, just yet. However it’s the direction Chrome is going and the intent behind the release that matters. Google doesn’t want a competitor to IE or Firefox, they want a new OS – a web OS that competes and beats Microsoft Windows.

Chris Messina who worked both a Mozilla and Flock – both browser companies – has a great post about how Chrome came to be and what it means (post is here). Chrome is the future of browsers. It’s one that embraces web applications and has Gears, an engine that enhances the internal code of apps to make them more powerful and quick.

On interesting piece of the post is pointing out WHO is working on Chrome. He paints Google as cohesive team of folks in the pennisula who are laser focused on delivering a next generation browser:

Google is a well-oiled, well-heeled machine. The Webkit team, as a rhizomatic offshoot from Apple, has a similar development pedigree and has consistently produced a high quality — now cross-platformopen source project, nary engaging in polemics or politics. They let the results speak for themselves. They keep their eyes on the ball.

Ultimately this has everything to do with people; with leadership, execution and vision.

When Mozilla lost Ben Goodger I think the damage went deeper than was known or understood. Then Blake Ross and Joe Hewitt went over to Facebook, where they’re probably in the bowels of the organization, doing stuff with FBML and the like, bringing Parakeet into existence (they’ve recently been joined by Mike Schroepfer, previously VP of Engineering at Mozilla). Brad Neuberg joined Google to take Dojo Offline forward in the Gears project (along with efforts from Dylan Schiemann and Alex Russell). And the list goes on.

A few more points he expands in the original and subsequent post:

  • One unique feature of Chrome is that it auto-updates without any notifications (with obvious security issues). Chris writes: “if you’ve read the fine-print closely, you already know that this means that Chrome will be a self-updating, self-healing browser….. by using Chrome, you agree to allow Google to update the browser. That’s it: end of story. You want to turn it off? Disconnect from the web… in the process, rendering Chrome nothing more than, well, chrome (pun intended).”
  • Another interesting point of note is that Google evolved the UI of the browser and “went ahead and combined the search box and the location field in Chrome and is now pushing the location bar as the starting place, as well as where to do your searching” This is interesting as it was a logical trend that no browser has yet picked up on

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AOL mail crushes Gmail

Not in terms of functionality or ease of use but check this out:

Yahoo dominates e-mail with 88.4 million users in the United States in August, according to comScore. That is far more than Microsoft’s Windows Live Hotmail at 45.2 million and AOL at 44.8 million, not to mention Gmail at 26.0 million.

When you look at how much time people spend reading their e-mail, Yahoo mail users spend the most time (286 minutes a month), Gmail users the least (82 minutes), with AOL and Microsoft in the middle (229 and 204 minutes, respectively).

Wow. As a Gmail-lover, i would have never thought that was the case. You read the whole article here.

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Google's Shot Across the Bow

It’s been a while since there’s been a major power play by someone in Silicon Valley.  A big “take over the world” type of action.  I think Google’s latest Chrome is that – reminiscent of the old days of Netscape, Sun and others who were all trying to take over the world.  

Fred Wilson does a good job of describing how their 3 latest projects: Chrome, Android, and Cloud/Gears are positioning them to be the OS of the future.  Saying



  1. They are building a modern browser, Chrome, that resembles an operating system as much as a browser.  It’s not that Google wants to build a better version of Internet Explorer or Firefox. They want to build a better environment for running web apps.
  2. They are building a mobile operating system, Android, that is also designed for running web apps in a mobile environment. I think in time, Google’s Android will be to the iPhone what Windows was to the Mac. The iPhone laid out many of the killer mobile device innovations, but its a closed device, a closed carrier relationship, and even a closed application store. Android will take all of those good ideas and put them on every device, with every carrier, and in partnership with every app developer
  3. Google is all about the cloud. They have developed all of their apps in what goes for the cloud these days. They’ve build a great cloud computing platform in App Engine. 
These three things ensure that Google will be a major player.  With other launches of OpenSocial and such don’t display the raw power of Google but here it is.  I love it and believe they will be the biggest and most powerful company standing – over facebook, Microsoft and others – when the dust settles. 

The Coach of Silicon Valley

On the plane this past weekend, i read a great article about a guy named Bill Campbell who is known in Silicon Valley as “coach.” He’s a former football coach at Columbia who is non-technical but has a knack for handling personalities and managing companies and employees. He’s on the board of Apple and Intuit, sits in on every Google board meeting, and can frequently be found around the valley drinking bud light and yelling at people (in a good way).

One interesting thing about the article is how he evaluates talent. He believes that startups often hire “early stage” people without thinking about whether they will succeed as the company grows. Instead, he believes they should hire major players who know how to scale up. Once hired, the review system should measure these 4 areas:

  1. On the job performance – the typical quantitative goals
  2. Peer group relationships
  3. Management / leadership and how well you develop the people around you
  4. Innovation and best practices

I thought these were interesting, especially having peer group relationships being part of a review. I think that’s smart as these interactions do impact your performance immensely. If you can’t get along with your co-workers, it’s hard to be productive, or manage or lead.

YouTube getting its ass kicked by Hulu?

I read an interesting post by Cuban called “Hulu is kicking Youtube’s Ass”  where he argues that YouTube’s business model is broken and that Hulu has the only sustainable model going forward. He argues that because Hulu has rights to sell ads on their videos they are doing a much better job in revenue per video and revenue per user. Hulu is gaining momentum.  Cuban argues that they might already have more monetizaable users and traffic and that by next year it will have more revenue than YouTube.

These are fighting words but it does lead to a bigger question of whether you can monetize users and self-expresssion.  Web 2.0 is all about user created content but if that content is only that and not something that can be monetized – then do you have a big business?  Facebook and MySpace have taken shots lately of not being able to monetize their huge traffic.

Almost as if YouTube heard the conversation, they announced today that they are removing the 10 minute limit on their videos for Partners. I could see them getting more into Hulu’s business as time goes on and licenseing more and more content to distribute and sell ads around.

Where's Yahoo's RSS Reader?

Isn’t Yahoo! supposed to compete with Google and other consumer properties? I mean, even AOL has an RSS reader (here). People are using RSS readers more and more and Google’s making it social. I now get feeds shared to me every day and they’re usually the most interesting ones. For instance the image below was from a post that was shared to me by Julian and i also think it does a good job representing Yahoo’s efforts in the Reader space. MyYahoo is so 90’s, get with the program Y!

The short head is human, middle fat is social and long tail is algorithmic

This was a quote i found on Chris Anderson’s  – the author of The Long Tail – and it refers to how search will be done in the future.  The short popular stuff will be pre-loaded results by humans, the medium will be populated by friends and the obscure long tail is found by algorithms.  The quote from the blog post is:

“The short head will be human, the fat middle social and the long tail algorithmic” Still, that single sentence is worth another book. I won’t write it, but I’ll bet someone else does.

It is an interesting way to think about it.  Of course, it is all ad-supported and it does make a good case for Mahalo.

Features for Google Reader

I love my Google Reader.  I like being able to stay in one “web inbox” and cruise through a stream of web clips.

One thing I don’t like is hassle of placing a comment on a blog.  To leave a comment, i have to leave Google Reader and go to the blog, then type in the comment (usually have to signMyBlogLog Image-in first).  i’d like to have is a universal comment field that’s part of Google Reader and interfaces with many different types of blogs.  It has all the necessary fields and the Reader communicates with the blog.  That’d be helpful.

Another thing i’d like is to get MyBlogLog working with the reader.  MyBlogLog is a great little service that puts you into communities if you travel to those blogs frequently.  However it only works if you actually visit the site.  I rarely go to the site but rather visit all my sites via the Reader.  It’d be good if they could work together.

Those are my 2 little suggestions.  Get going Google.