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Microsoft Building Photo Sharing Service

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I was tipped off to an interesting job posting by Microsoft posted on Friday regarding upcoming efforts to create a photo sharing service that will compete with Flickr, Smugmug and other internet based photo sharing sites.

Microsoft to Build Photosharing Service

From the job posting:


"Heard of Flickr? YouTube? How about. Mac? This role will work across the new Windows Live division with teams like Spaces, SkyDrive, Messenger and Hotmail to construct a winning strategy for Microsoft in photo and video sharing. This role involves leading the team to design the strategy then build and implement a winning solution that will be loved by millions of customers. This feature team is building a next-generation photo and video sharing service that will compete with flickr, smugmug and other photo web solutions today. This is a “v1” opportunity."

It will be interesting to see what Microsoft comes up with in regards to photosharing. Certainly they have the resources (programming talent, money, bandwidth, etc.) to build something really really cool. But do they have the *culture* to build something really cool?

Perhaps most interesting to me with regards to Microsoft and photo sharing would be a site that interacted heavily with Microsoft’s Media Center platform. I’ve long believed in and shared Bill Gate’s vision of the plasma display as a way to deliver art into the home of the future. Originally when Gates started the stock photography agency Corbis back in 1989 (originally named Interactive Home Systems) the idea was to buy the rights to amazing photography for the future value of being able to showcase this art in the home of tomorrow — Gates own home being a sort of early prototype.

Since 1989 though the work coming from advanced amateurs has been as strong as the Pros, in my opinion, and a strategy by Microsoft that combined the showcase potential in the home of Media Center with the stock photography agency potential of Corbis in attracting advanced amateurs, with a kick ass photosharing service could have huge potential. There also could be significant value to Microsoft search with regards to the image search potential (remember folks, this is why Yahoo *really* bought Flickr) of a properly structured photo sharing site.

The biggest question for me though will be will Microsoft have the *will* to win. My friend Robert Scoble says that back when he worked for Microsoft he suggested that Microsoft buy Flickr in the weeks before Yahoo actually bought them. As the world’s leading photo sharing site, Flickr now has an enormous head start over any other photo sharing site out there — but a better Flickr can definitely be built — heck, I’m working on that one myself ;)

But can Microsoft innovate fast enough — can they forgo the immediate business and financial models needed to just instead focus on building something amazing that can generate the buzz needed to launch something truly spectacular and take market share away from their competition? Managing a social network is not easy and nothing makes fueling a social network harder than bureaucracy and corporate politics.

Anyways, this all is just based on a job posting but it certainly would be interesting to see what, if anything develops from this. The question for me is, will Microsoft actually build a Flickr killer, or will they merely build another Picasa without the social network or traction to truly become the leader in the photo sharing space. Can they build a truly innovative site or will what they end up with something that looks more like yesterday’s has been Webshots?

Nice work, by the way, scouring those Microsoft job boards jonester!

[I'm CEO of Zooomr]

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