Instagram Faceplants, Flickr Back From Dead
What a bizarre couple of weeks for the image conscious, or at least the photographically-minded, first Instagram severs it's close ties with Twitter, then ratchets up user anger with a dramatic changes in its terms, enabling it to sell users' photos.
Meanwhile, over at Flickr, the once beloved haunt of pictures the product development wheels have cranked into high gear with numerous updates including a well-received and surprisingly snazzy mobile app.
Since its acquisition for $1bn by Facebook in April, the de-flowering of Instagram's warm'n'fuzzy feeling has been much anticipated. And so it came to pass. The updates to Instagram terms certainly dubbed "Instagram's suicide note" by one user, have allow for,
"a business or other entity may pay [Facebook] to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions"
The free lunch is over, but it's not entirely shocking, the company was always going to have to justify its lofty valuation at some point and with the new terms, "help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions".
Users have until 13 January to download their pictures and close their account (here's a handy guide from Roberto Baldwin over at Wired) if they don't agree to the new terms. However, there's another wrinkle as Declan McCullagh at CNET points out,
"Another policy pitfall: If Instagram users continue to upload photos after January 16, 2013, and subsequently delete their account after the deadline, they may have granted Facebook an irrevocable right to sell those images in perpetuity."
Meanwhile, Yahoo! seems to have woken up and is finally realising there's a tonne of value in its long-neglected photo service Flickr. Unlike Instagram, Flickr has an existing revenue stream from its paid-for Pro accounts, which in January 2011, Business Insider estimated at $50m.
Despite reports of Flickr's premature death, recent developments, particularly the launch of the new Flickr app have been warmly received. Taking a leaf from Instagram's book, the new app includes filters and integration with Tumblr, Facebook and notably Twitter, using the Twitter Card format that Instagram baulked at, showing high resolution pictures in each of those services.
This one is going to rumble and with echoes of the Betamax vs VHS battle (for those too young to remember: Betamax was a superior video tape technology fails commercially at hands of ubiquitous VHS format. Video tape was the pre-cursor to DVDs, oh, never mind...Google it!).
A cursory glance of the Apple Store's Photography app charts still shows Instagram in the first or second slot across the majority of markets.
Will you be leaving Instagram? Have you used the Flickr app?
Update: Instagram says they're listening to the users and the new terms were posted early to get exactly this type of feedback.
Another Update: About turn - with a couple of caveats - Instagram's reversed it's new terms in a blog post on their site.