Yahoo! pimps Flickr in the UK, but ignores the iPhone. Are they losing the plot?

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Uber-video reporter Hermione Way (of TechFluff TV fame) stumbled on something interesting today. Yahoo! appears to be running a PR push in London for Flickr called Brilliant Spots. She duly Twitpic’d the pavement based advert from her iPhone. The site mentioned leads to a place which is really about Flickr. What’s wrong with this picture? Yahoo wants everyone to use MMS, a terrible, costly old system pimped mercilessly by mobile phone operators.

But of course, right now the iPhone does not support native MMS and it’s a fair bet that the super users of camera phones right now are iPhone users, posting to Twitpic and other related image services. In addition, sending an MMS picture of something you just find a bit “brilliant” from a normal phone costs *real money* – unlike using up the flat-rate data on an iPhone. Of course, people can use others handsets, like a Nokia, but even then there is no direct call from Yahoo to “post to Flickr” which plenty of people would recognise.

Does anyone else think Yahoo! is “fiddling while Rome burns”? Yes, they’ve been reaching out to the developer community through Hack Days and the like in London. Yes, they are working hard on Yahoo Boss and Search Monkey. But, as TechCrunch US point out, they are seriously losing the plot over search and realtime/streams – which is pretty much what everyone is talking about right now, including Google.

Tell us your thoughts below.

  • Barney

    Yahoo still around?

    Hadn’t noticed. – useless.

  • Rachel

    Or any other phone with a data plan…. I use N95 with Shozu to get pictures up there.

    By the look of it, the key reason they’re using MMS, is so they can get it on their site. It’s a single end point. I’m guessing setting it up so you have to create an end point for your picture client of choice is a lot harder, introduces more barriers. MMS is similar, functionally the same on most phones to SMS – you type a number – so has more mass appeal

  • Tony

    I suspect there are two reasons for this:
    a) significantly more people have an MMS capable phone than an iPhone many of these people don’t have inclusive data and while MMS is not cheap have you seen the price of ad-hoc data?
    b) Those people with smart phones who are “super users” as you put it will have already got their favourite on-line picture site and any app required to post to it over their data package.

    p.s. I also suspect that all the hardcore cameraphone users aren’t using the iPhone but one with a decent camera on board.

  • Andy Theyers

    I hate to say it Mike but I think you’re overplaying the importance of the iPhone in the mobile phone camera market. I won’t argue that MMS is overrated and costly, but calling iPhone users “super users of camera phones” is just plain wrong. The appalling quality of that camera won’t let anyone be a super user of anything.

    • Ian Betteridge

      iPhone has a market share of around 15% in the smartphone market in Europe, which makes it sound important.

      But, of course, the smartphone market represents only a small proportion of the phone market, and there’s an installed base of many, many millions of camera phones which aren’t smartphones.

      So yes, Mike is wildly overplaying the importance of iPhone.

      • Mike Butcher

        Well, I just thing the emphasis on MMS is odd, iPhone aside, when you can do so much via data. It seemed to me that the iPhone was one of the best representation of that “app” approach.

      • Matt

        As an ex-mobile guy, MMS suffers from a serious adoption problem, people just don’t use it. Devices like iPhones have much higher data adoption rates (other smartphones get a look in too).

        Therefore I think it’s entirely reasonable to argue a away from from MMS. Frankly Yahoo! would have had better luck launching a Flickr Java client that expecting people to MMS photos to them…

      • Dave Nattriss

        Yes, the app/data approach is much cheaper and more advanced.

        But seriously, iPhones represent, what, 2% of all mobiles in use at the moment in the UK? Whereas I would guess at least 80% of them can do MMS. They’d be foolish not to support it. You’re clearly just bitter ‘cos you use an iPhone!

  • Pete Ashton

    You could also consider that iPhone users may well be savvy web users too so aren’t the target of Yahoo’s campaign. There are loads of people with relatively powerful phones who don’t know how to use them. Hooking them into mobile internet through a system them understand (texting) makes sense, especially if the reply from Yahoo has a link which opens in their (previously ignored) phone’s browser.

  • Ed Lea

    A huge number of UK iPhone do already have MMS support, via “MMS Photo Messaging” from the App Store.

    And I can confidently tell you it’s been used in the past 24 hours to send MMS from various Yahoo! spots.

  • Scot

    While I don’t care one way or the other about jesus phone support, what strikes me as really, really odd is that the “Beautiful Spots” thing is being done in very unflickr way. Normally, people would add photos a “Beautiful Spots” group. Instead, if people MMS a photo to that number, they effectively loose it – it doesn’t go into thier photostream and it shows up as owned by the Beautiful Spots user.

    I do see that there is a Beautiful Spots group pool, but so far it only has one member.

  • devolute

    My N78 can send pics to flickr ‘out of the box’. This options effectively complicates the process for me. Stupid! Yahoo!

  • Merrill

    Similar PR push in France with the website except there were not able to install WordPress on the domain !!!

  • Jules Morgan

    It’s fine for us to discuss concepts from the early-adopter’s viewpoint, but the reality of this type of campaign is that it’s not aimed at us at all.

    Target audience is clearly the mainstream market, and it’s as much an awareness play as anything else. And the mainsteam, by and large, don’t really know about Flickr. Honestly. They don’t. I actually know some of them, so trust me on this…

    I’ll agree that MMS kinda blows. But that’s not because some marginal player in the cellphone market doesn’t provide it. I did see one of the networks allowing you to send them on your regular text plan – costs 5 of your text allowance – which is a step in the right direction.

    The bottom line is that I can send an MMS to pretty much anyone I know. And they get it pretty much immediately. This ongoing circle-jerk over realtime is all well and good, but how is emailing someone a photo, or posting it to my photostream more ‘realtime’ than that ?

    • Jules Morgan

      I anticipate the comment regarding public awareness of Flickr might be a bit contentious. And asking you to trust me on that is probably a silly choice of phrase. But, to clarify, I’m not talking about online awareness, I’m talking about brand awareness in the general public. If anyone has data that suggests otherwise I’d be interested to see it.

  • Corrupted Mind

    I’d actually clicked through to this post to correct Mike on the “Super Users” point… but I spotted that he had already been corrected on that… lol

    Jules has hit the nail on the head. If you’re on TechcrunchUK you know about flickr and how to upload a beautiful view.

    If however you’re like my mother (a sucker for viral marketing it seems) she’ll stand there take the pic and send it via the shortcode… and then go to the site to see what she’s done. Then next week she’ll evangelize about Flickr to me as if I don’t know about it… lol

  • Robert O'Callaghan

    So anyone anywhere can mms to that number? Just change the SPOT xxx and a group of us could flash mms the site by cycling thru the number :-)


  • StevieB’s Shared Items - May 21, 2009 at Lost in Cyberspace

    […] Yahoo! pimps Flickr in the UK, but ignores the iPhone. Are they losing the plot?May 20, 2009 […]

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  • Nikhil Pahwa

    the reason why some sites go with MMS is because a revenue share arrangement with telecom operators allows them to monetize the uploading of the photos. I know of sites in India that have purposely not allowed uploading via GPRS.

    This is ridiculous because not many people use MMS – interoperability issues and complicated settings have discouraged usage.

    It’s short term thinking: GPRS and 3G are cheaper and the content gets uploaded directly. Yahoo should know better than that.

  • Alex

    Not sure if this is a late amend but you can email pics to the site via a dedicated email address:

    “p.s. if you have a snazzy phone that lets you e-mail photos, enter the spot number and picture in an e-mail and send it to

    Doesn’t say anything on the spot graphics, but the function is there.

  • Dave Nattriss

    I think the bigger story here is Yahoo not really planning where they’re putting the spots on the ground – right next to where someone died?!

    • Pascal Wheeler

      Unfortunate placement for sure.

      It’s a nice idea though and if nothing else must have created a few pauses as people took in their surroundings. I know I could do with doing that a little more often, and not just staring at my iPhone trying to figure out which direction I’m headed.

      MMS is officially coming to the iPhone in the summer so Apple must have seen the demand for it. I guess now it’s classed as the low tech photo sharing option.

  • Pascal Wheeler

    I meant to add that I giggled at your twitpic’ing the picture as opposed to Flickr’ing or MMS’ing or whatever the hell they want you to do with it ;)

  • bryan

    I think you’re overplaying the importance of the iPhone in the mobile phone camera market. I won’t argue that MMS is overrated and costly, but calling iPhone users “super users of camera phones” is just plain wrong.i just found this amazing website, it has all kind of businesses from a cleaning companies to estate agents to banks, all I have to do is just type in the business type, and the location and it gives me all the results in that particular area, this website has a huge database of all sorts of businesses, I just joined a driving school which I found on this website. I would recommend this site to all the people out there. it doesn’t go into thier photostream and it shows up as owned by the Beautiful Spots user.

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