Obviously, this change is good for Instagram (and Facebook) because it provides them with loads and loads of free content that they can use and distribute (and sell) the way that suits their needs. On the other hand, this is a completely raw deal for users. Before we go too far here, I need to be clear. Instagram is a free service that users must sign up for. On top of that, users take photos and deliberately upload those photos to Instagram’s servers. Again, all completely free.
Flickr used to be the hot social photo sharing service on the web. Since then, Yahoo (Flickr’s parent) has, how shall I say, lacked product direction. Recently Flickr released a new version of it’s iOS app that provides a much more streamlined UI and many Instagram-like features (notably filters). This potential for mass exodus from Instagram should have Marissa Mayer and the Flickr team licking their lips. They just launched this new version and should go into complete user acquisition mode. Making it as easy as humanly possible for people to import their existing Instagram photos into Flickr for free. There is currently a monthly upload limit of 300MB. That needs to go away for people importing from Instagram. If Flickr can provide that, and then hit people up for the $24.99/yr for unlimited uploads after they have everyone signed up, by all means, do that.
This is a hanging curveball that, if Flickr can take advantage of, would change the game in mobile social photo sharing.
*** Update ***
Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram, has issued a response via Instagram’s blog attempting to clear up Instagram’s position. It was a well written statement that speaks to the issues that people have regarding advertising and ownership. Flickr still has an opportunity here, but with this response, it looks like Instagram has righted the ship. The question now is, “Is it too late?”
*** Update ***
It looks like the folks at Free the Photos have jumped in and enabled users to import their Instagram photos into Flickr.