Flickr Flashes New Video Feature In Challenge To YouTube

Dennis Faas's picture

The image-hosting site Flickr has launched an online video page that appears to be a natural rival to YouTube. However, most analysts think the move has come too late.

It's an extension of the search engine wars: Flickr is owned by Yahoo, while Google owns YouTube. Though Yahoo already has a video hosting service, it's only available to media outlets and professionals. The new Flickr service will allow anyone to view videos, but only 'pro' members can upload footage. This will cost $24.95 a year, and even then clips will be limited to 90 seconds. That's in sharp contrast to YouTube, which allows anyone to upload clips up to 10 minutes long without charge.

Flickr's general manager Kakul Srivastava said, "What we are doing is going to meet a huge unmet need in the market." And yet, it appears their main strategy is to appeal to people who want to store personal images and videos on the same site and build a community of users. They are putting the emphasis on home movies (as they call them, 'long photos') rather than professionally produced footage. In addition, Flickr will be monitoring the site to make sure there are no clips which infringe copyright, though YouTube, officially at least, does the same thing. (Source:

One blogger who tested the service found it generally worked well, but was frustrated by the 90-second limit, as well as the maximum 150MB size. He suggested Flickr offer some basic editing tools to help people meet these limits. (Source:

The scheme's chances of success seem slim at best. The service is more expensive and more restricted than the well-established YouTube, and doesn't seem to include any 'killer features' which would give it an advantage.

Concentrating on home-made clips may sound a worthwhile tactic but, other than a few clips which become short-lived cult favourites, chances are most people prefer YouTube for the (copyright infringing)TV and movie clips. It's unlikely home movies will attract sufficient visitors to raise enough advertising for the site's survival.

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