Flickr removes Google and Facebook sign-in – does this signal a change in Yahoo's strategy?

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Veteran photo sharing service Flickr has announced to users that they will soon no longer be able to sign in using their Google or Facebook accounts.

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Back when Instagram was a meaningless word and a “twitpic” was a polite way of describing a photo of Iain Duncan Smith, Flickr ruled the online photography roost – and back in 2005 was acquired by Yahoo (of “your mum’s email address” fame).

Time hasn’t been good for Yahoo or Flickr though, with many young upstarts – which is why the company perhaps made the decision to drop the requirement for a Yahoo account to use the service – instead letting you sign in with the likes of Google and Facebook accounts. So it is interesting that several years on the company is now backtracking – and will be insisting users in future have a Yahoo account.

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Whilst annoying for some, this could also indicate a broader shift in Yahoo’s strategy. Since Google killed off any hope of Yahoo having the sort of platform dominance in had in the 1990s the company has instead attempted to remain relevant by buying or creating services with a slightly smaller scope than being everything to all people.

We saw this with the acquisition of trendy Tumblr last year and the subsequent launch of various Yahoo microsites like the hideously named “Yahoo OMG”, which focuses on celebrity gossip. Essentially, there was no expectation with any of these services that you’d be a signed up member of Yahoo and would indulge in everything it does – which is perhaps why Gmail sign in was okay.

So with this latest development… does it mean that Yahoo want to be a platform again? By locking out its services to non-Yahoo users, it means if you want to use Flickr (and dare we speculate, Tumblr soon?), then you’ll have to have an @yahoo.com email address.

Is Yahoo getting assertive again?

James O’Malley