Unhappy Tumblrs look for safety nets
Despite Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's promise not to "screw up" Tumblr following its recent acquisition, the move has caused some disquiet in the user community.
Posting on Tumblr, of course, many users are worried about the impact advertising may have on the Tumblsphere, others that Yahoo will change the ethos of the site. There was disquiet about rumors Yahoo would push to make it more family friendly by filtering content too -- around 1 in 6 Tumblr pages is reckoned to contain porn. Despite assurances, and the fact that the circulating message about the clean up has been exposed as fake, there's a lot of distrust out there.
Personally I like Tumblr, though I don’t exactly fit its cool kid demographic. I've used it since 2010 and it's the only blogging platform I've stuck with over a long period of time, mainly thanks to its ease of use and its ability to integrate content with other sites. If Yahoo can manage Tumblr in a sensitive way and preserve what’s good about it I'll be happy to stay. It seems to have managed this trick with Flickr so there is hope.
It's worth considering what this means from the Yahoo side of things too. If you can locate a Yahoo user you won't find them worrying about upcoming changes -- Yahoo doesn't inspire that kind of user loyalty. But Tumblr isn't the only thing the company has bought recently and there's a definite pattern to the acquisitions. Earlier this month it purchased Astrid -- a smartphone daily organizer app -- for an undisclosed amount. In March it bought news aggregation app Summly from British teen entrepreneur Nick D’Aloisio for $30 million. What these and Tumblr have in common is an emphasis on personalizing the web experience. They’re also all targeted heavily towards mobile devices.
We can expect to see the impact of this shopping spree on the delivery of Yahoo's news and other services. You can already detect change in the air with the new tablet-friendly Flickr layout, though as with any redesign there are some users who don’t like the new look. Whether all this will be enough to make people really care about Yahoo again only time will tell. In the meantime Tumblr users should probably sit tight for a while and see what happens.