After years of veritable neglect, Yahoo launched a revamped version of the Flickr app for iOS on Wednesday morning, adding yet another entrant to the growing ranks of photo-heavy apps.
But something here is not quite like the others. While Facebook and Twitter duke it out with their own respective photo offerings, Yahoo is trying make friends.
Picture this: Flickr has integrated itself across the other major social networks, so you’re able to push photos out to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Not a huge deal — Instagram can do that.
But Yahoo made it a point to highlight Flickr’s ability to take advantage of the Twitter Cards technology, which allows full photos to appear inside of the Twitter stream.
“We’ve worked with our partners to ensure that your photos look gorgeous no matter where they are viewed, on or off Flickr,” according to Yahoo’s blog post.
That comes only days after Instagram — owned by Facebook — pulled its support for the Cards technology over the weekend. It’s the clearest signal to date that Facebook and Instagram want users inside of their network, not looking at photos inside of Twitter’s stream.
So Flickr’s willingness to use Cards is a win for Twitter; it’s Twitter’s method of implementing media-rich experiences in the stream, and it’s the direction the company is heading in.
(Granted, it’s not a massive win for Twitter. After all, it’s unclear how many active users Flickr still has since going for so long without a respectable mobile app. Flickr needs Twitter more than Twitter needs Flickr, but still — using another company’s tech in a complementary way seems like a peace offering between the two.)
In turn, it seems Flickr has been granted a concession or two by Twitter. The new Flickr app allows you to search your Twitter friends list to find who also uses Flickr and begin to follow them on the photo service. That’s a big deal, considering Twitter pulled that feature from both Instagram and Tumblr earlier in the year. It’s similar to when Facebook yanked contact importing support from Google back in 2010, but left the feature up and running for Yahoo and Microsoft.
So what’s the lesson here?
Simple. To get off the bench and back into the game, Yahoo needs friends. And right now, Facebook and Twitter are fighting each other, not Yahoo.
Yahoo, in essence, can remain a Switzerland, partnering with those with whom it makes sense and perhaps inching its way toward mainstream consumer relevance once more.
A long shot? Maybe. But crazier things have happened.
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