Monday, 16 November 2009

Social Media Thunderdome - Flickr vs. Zooomr

For Part I (Introduction), Part II (Media Bracket) & Part III (The Criteria) click the links.For a recap of Round 1 of the Microblogging sites, click here.
Traffic (Alexa Ranking):

Alexa’s Global 3 Month Reach Increase/Decrease:
+6.2% to a global monthly average of 2.196% of internet users
+.02% to a global monthly average of .0063% of internet users
US/UK Traffic Ranking
Largest National Traffic Source:
32.4% - UK
20.8% - US


Yahoo! - Santa Clara, California


Upload, Download, Syndication, Authorization & Groups Capable
Upload, Download, Syndication, Authorization & Groups Capable

Mobile Usage Options:
Mobile site, third pary and app integration, phone access

Mobile site, phone access

None present on interface
None Present on interface

          Photosharing sites occupy an intresting position in today's internet landscape. Whereas before the ubiquity of Facebook and Myspace, these sites represented the best option for posting photos to share. However, as long as mutli-content hosting networks offer features like Facebook's photo albums, one has to wonder if user's truly want to store content in one place and interact with users in another. The challenge facing photosharing sites is how to add value against offerings which aggregate much more content to a defined set of the user's friends.

         This isn't to say that exclusive photo/video hosting sites don't have a place, as they definitely do. Users who want a repository of content without the hassle of moving their collections from possibly fleeting social network to social network will welcome an external option to store content. Further, especially in the case of video/photography buffs, a network built solely around sharing photo or video content can take on its own networking appeal, in the context of shared values and information between users. One lingering question to these possibilities however, is that as mobile devices allow content to be uploaded simultaneously to blogs and networks, do the majority of users value photographic quality over instentaneous distribution?

I refuse to believe that normal photographers are able to take Filckr front page quality photos all the time

        Flickr represents (in most people's minds) the pre-eminent site for photo distribution outside of social networks. Having been established in 2003, it rose to prominence during the growth of social networking and has held a variety of positions with respect to dominant networks. Flickr has attempted to keep relevant with various technological trends by offering features beyond photosharing, such as geo-tagging, video, comment tagging, photo export to various products and attempted integration to other networks, all with varying degrees of success.

        While features such as geo and comment tagging are almost required now by users, Flickr's adding of video is perhaps the most telling about their network position and orientation. Like Youtube, regular and HD video uploads are allowed (to a length of 90 seconds), however, unlike other video sharing sites, only "Pro" or paid accounts are allowed to view in HD. Flickr, and subsequently their owner Yahoo!'s, addition of video belies an interesting orientation by the company against staying solely in their traditional photosharing capacity and diversifying out into other content to survive. What's worrying however, is that video sites will indefinitely do video sharing better than Flickr (and without paid accounts). If video can't function as a draw for Flickr, then is the traditional photo fare enough for most users?

The iPhone & iPhone 3GS seem to have cannibalized each other, but the Cannon vs. iPhone split shows some of the underlying trends for photosharing sites

       In assesing the value of solely Flickr's photosharing functionality, we come back to the introductory question of Flickr's stance in the juxtaposition of quality photography vs. instentaneous upload. User data from the site shows that the Apple iPhone holds a prominent position as one of the most popular platforms, showing that mobile uploads hold a place within the network's ethos. However, one has to assume that "quality" (i.e. traditional camera taken, edited and uploaded) may still play a larger part in the network's activity, based on the variety of other prominent cameras.

Zooomr's interface is a departure from the slightly more polished (yet some would argue corporate) interface of Flickr

      Compared to Flickr, at first glance, Zooomr seems slightly less polished. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as the site was first set up to allow the creator to share photos with friends in Japan and the interface manifests itself in a highly idiosyncratic and personalized yet functional way. Its zipline login page allows you to see a stream of user activity and its added features that seem to indicate aspirations in microblogging and geolocation functionality. These features do denote the possiblity that as a hub of socialization and content sharing between existing friends, Zooomr is a positive option. Furthermore, Zooomr's focus on gloablization, something that becomes evident when reading about its expanding localization options, presents the possibility that it hopes to grab user share in a variety of markets that may feel underserved by Flickr.

     Contrasting these possibilties with the overall experience of using the site however, seems to be a different story. I won't begrudge anyone for creating a network based on personal tastes and needs, but Zooomr, at least on a personal level, felt less standardized in its user experience than other sites. The array of possible features and content seemed scattered and I feel that even after having a play around with it, I'm still missing a variety of options that should be evident. Of course, Zooomr has a basic functionality that is evident and comparable to Flickr, but it doesn't seem to differentiate itself in any strong manner. Doing some Googling about Zooomr, I was able to discover that in 2005-2007, an array of interesting features were rolled out with many of them being changed or removed by the time I've reached it.

     Going back to the initial question of mobile vs. quality photography, I can't seem to get a position for Zooomr. It seems that the service allows for a distribution of photos that would help to foster a quality photography community, but the interface seems to be a sticking point for such a development. Further, I'm not really clear on its array of photo upload options readily available, so its hard to discern focus.

     With respect to Zooomr vs. Flickr, if we were to declare one as having a greater capacity for being a prominent force in social media, it becomes clear that Flickr's current prominence and design creates a superior position relative to a plucky and idiosyncratic Zooomr. Overall, the question for future rounds becomes not whether Flickr can survive a direct photosharing competitor with similar features, but whether it can survive changing consumer tastes, mobile proliferation and the prominence of the all in one social network and media repository.


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