Suffering From Innovator’s Dilemma, Flickr Watches Instagram Beat Them In Mobile Space

Posted Dec 26, 2010

The hype around mobile photo editing and blogging services Instagram has overshadowed Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) subsidiary Instagram hit 3 million mobile users in less than 3 months. One of the biggest reasons why Yahoo! let these two services surpass Flickr on mobile devices is because of “Innovator’s dilemma” according to Kellan Elliott-McCrea. Kellan was a former Architect at Flickr, but now he works as the VP of Engineering at Etsy.

What Kellan meant by innovator’s dilemma is that if Yahoo! utilized Twitter to power photo sharing, then they would sacrifice their own user base. ?The Yahoo! Paranoids would have shut us down in a heart beat,? quipped Elliot-McCrea in a Quora post.

Kellan also partially blamed Yahoo! executive Marco Boerries for stalling the mobile app team. ?Several Flickr internal attempts to build and ship native mobile experiences (going back to 2006) were squashed relentlessly. The Flickr iPhone app that eventually shipped was built by CL (Boerries ?Connected Life? team).? What this basically means is that Yahoo! has let their own user-base become the center of almost every decision that they make when deciding products. The Flickr team also had a lack of resources at Yahoo! This would be a similar problem if Google decided to buy Flickr instead according to Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield.