In a few days my pro account on Flickr expires. Although the cost of a Flickr Pro account is relatively trivial, I have been giving renewal of my Pro account some thought. The conclusion I have reached is that I am going to renew it, but it isn't because I belive Flickr has much of a future.
Because Flickr really has no future.
Since Yahoo! acquired Flickr in march 2005 nothing much has happened. While some effort was put into making the site scale better initially, Yahoo! hasn't really done anything to improve any observable aspects of Flickr for years. Which is a shame. Because Flickr used to be the site for photographers. It even launched the careers of a handful of photographers who used to be mere hobbyists.
Today the site, and the brand, is in decline. What used to be a thriving community has increasingly taken on the appearance of a ghost town.
Even from a technical perspective Flickr is failing. When linking images from twitter or from social news sites such as Reddit, people have started noting how there is a reluctance to click on image links hosted by Flickr -- simply because the service is too slow. Users respond to this and instinctively avoid Flickr.
I will be renewing my pro account for another year. But the main reason I am doing that is because I want to buy a bit more time to figure out where I am moving my pictures. I hope that Google+ or whomever I migrate my image galleries to, will provide some tools for migrating my content off Flickr.
As for why Yahoo! are so consistently running their properties into the ground, I don't think there are any simple explanations. But I used to work for Yahoo! and I was never very impressed with the upper echelons of management at Yahoo!. There's a distinctive lack of passion for products and technology. Also I was never able to observe any clear and strong direction. Yahoo! is the master of half-hearted efforts.
Here's an interesting experiment: ask people what Yahoo!, as a company, is really good at?
I can't think of anything. And I used to work there.
Please do not take my renewal of my Flickr Pro account as an endorsement. Because it isn't. If you are shopping around for a photo site I'd keep an eye on Google+ or Facebook. They aren't there yet, but they have more momentum.