In mid 2005 I profiled YouTube for the first time. As Steve Rubel noted, the best way to describe it was “like Flickr, but for videos.” At the time few people saw the massive upside for YouTube, which was built completely on freely available Flash technology from Adobe. Flickr seemed like the far more interesting product.
Just a few months earlier Flickr had been acquired by Yahoo. And given how slow things were moving in 2005, few people thought YouTube would have the kind of success that Flickr had seen. But just a year later YouTube was suddenly worth $1.65 billion, and users were frustrated that they could upload their vacation photos to Flickr, but not the videos.
Yahoo has long promised to bring video to Flickr. In May 2007 co-founder Stewart Butterfield told us that users would be able to upload videos “soon.” This was reconfirmed in August 2007. But now, nearly three years after Yahoo bought them, and on their fourth birthday as a company, users are not able to upload videos to their Flickr accounts.
But rumors are flying that Yahoo intends to integrate video into Flickr very soon, perhaps in the next three weeks. Part of the delay may have been a long internal debate about how to make Flickr Video special and distinct from what YouTube already offers. They apparently have come to some product decisions, and will be making an announcement soon.
Yahoo PR and other employees are still dead quiet on the subject (I asked every one of them at the party tonight), but the buzz is growing and the leaks haven’t been totally contained. Get ready for Flickr Video. It’s coming. Really.