This is the earliest digital photo I have on online storage. Uploaded 10 December 2000, it's from a holiday to the NSW ski fields, looking down on some ducks that were skating around on the frozen lake in front of our hotel.
Anyway, for the last seven years it's been hosted with Yahoo! Photos, where it did almost nothing except take up 200k of disk space. Nobody much came and viewed it, nobody emailed it to a friend, nobody happened across it while browsing popular tags, nobody made a new friend as a result of viewing it, and crucially, nobody ever printed it out on a mug or a mousemat.
Not because it was a bad photo necessarily (though it might be) but because Yahoo! just failed to grok the social networking 2.0 wave that it helped touch off by launching web 1.0 market leaders like Yahoo! Messageboards, Yahoo! Groups and Yahoo! Bookmarks. Rather than grok it, Yahoo! was swamped by the wake of social networking 2.0 as it powered on past, floundering in the backwash of early precursors like eBay and Geocities, then by Flickr, MySpace and Facebook.
What is MySpace but Geocities with easier page editing and friend-finding? What is Facebook but Yahoo! Groups with an open API and some ajax? And what is Flickr but Yahoo! Photos plus social networking?
So in a few weeks my little duckies will be migrated across to live with my other photos on Flickr, where for the first time they will get pageviews, comments, favourites and other forms of sticky social interaction. All my little duckies will be in a row. Yahoo! had to pay reportedly USD35M for this to happen, when it probably had 4-5 years of breathing space to see this coming and just build it themselves.
Flickr was acquired in 2005, and since then, have we seen further significant innovations from the Flickr team? No, not really. It's taken them nigh-on two years to wait for management to summon up the courage to jam the two services together, fer chrissakes!
Should they add video uploading and sharing as a matter of urgency? You know they should. Will someone eat their lunch if they don't? Of course they will. Do they already know that, and are they constrained from doing it due to organisational lethargy and lack of dev resources?
Well, it wouldn't be the first time...