Photo-sharing site Flickr launches a new video service aimed at competing with online video giant YouTube. Flickr, the Yahoo-owned company that allows you to share pictures with anyone online, finally followed through with its
promise of bringing video-sharing to the site. The popular Web site hopes to provide ample competition in the vast Internet rivalry between Yahoo and Google (who owns YouTube).
The service will only allow “Pro” members who pay $24.95 a year to upload video clips of up to 90 seconds, but anyone can see them.
The short time limit is meant to keep the videos personal, unlike the array of wild and odd videos that make their way onto YouTube.
Privacy settings will allow content producers to limit access to the videos. The aim is to keep members’ videos and photos on the same website, adding a personal touch to video sharing that other sites like YouTube do not have.
"What we are doing is going to meet a huge unmet need in the market," says Kakul Srivastava, Flickr's general manager. "Most people aren't showing their personal videos at all right now," he says.
With a dedicated following, Flickr is the perfect place for Yahoo to competitively enter the video-sharing market while catering to its members. While the time limit suggests Flickr’s video-sharing service is a scaled-down version of YouTube, the intent of keeping video sharing a personal experience shows Yahoo’s goal of differentiating itself from Google.
The videos are displayed as thumbnails alongside a user’s photo and are able to be played like so or enlarged. Just like photos on the site, users can leave comments and captions for the videos. And like Facebook and Myspace, users can embed videos on their blogs.
With a February audience of 42 million, according to comScore, Flickr increased its audience by 53% from last year, second in online photo sharing to Facebook with 65 million viewers.
Yahoo has been competing with Google since the birth of the two companies, but Google has dominated the rivalry, prompting Microsoft to offer and unsolicited bid of $42 billion to purchase the Yahoo.
With Flickr’s video service being offered in English and seven other languages—French, German, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and traditional Chinese—Yahoo might offer more competition to Google while backing its argument that it is worth more than Microsoft’s offer.
Though online videos are nothing revolutionary, they do enhance the Flickr experience and provide a video forum different from the pop culture of YouTube and Myspace.
It is to be seen whether the new video service enables Flickr to grow. Nonetheless, it gets Yahoo into the video sharing world while enabling its users to share short, personal clips to the world.
By Danny Scuderi