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Marissa Mayer has a new photo-sharing app. It looks like it's from 2009, but boomers might love it.

Katie Notopoulos   

Marissa Mayer has a new photo-sharing app. It looks like it's from 2009, but boomers might love it.
  • Marissa Mayer just launched an app called Shine, which is meant for group photo sharing.
  • The design and concept looks straight out of 2009, and people are roasting it online.

Marissa Mayer, former Yahoo CEO, just announced a new app from her latest venture. It's called Shine, and it's a photo-sharing app where multiple people can upload photos to a shared album.

My first reaction, along with the internet's was: What in the gosh-danged 2009 is this?

At first glance, the look and design of this appears ripped from the aughts. It's even in Yahoo purple (in an interview with TechCrunch, Mayer said that was completely coincidental).

The concept — a way to share photos with multiple people — seems equally outdated. The iPhone came out 17 years ago; people have been figuring out ways to share photos from their smartphones for quite some time now. Are you really trying to tell me that in the year 2024, people can't figure out how to share photos with each other?

And then I thought about it a little more. I tried to think of what apps or services already exist that do exactly this, but none of them were quite right. I use an iCloud shared Photo Stream to share kid photos with grandparents and some close friends — but this only works if everyone has an iPhone (the DOJ might have something to say about that, I imagine).

The use case for Shine is a family reunion or a baby shower, the kind of event where you have people from multiple generations (i.e., boomers in the mix) and different types of phones. Everyone's taking photos of their own little moments at the party, and you want to pool together all the photos to share afterward.

Yes, there are some other things that could do this. Flickr (formerly owned by Yahoo) used to be good that this, but now it's not quite what it used to be, and has a low limit for how many free photos it can host.

Sure, you could use Google Photos to do something like this, but Google Photos can be a real beast to navigate and use. (I am a pretty capable person, and I still find it insanely difficult and confusing.) And what happens if Aunt Carol still has her email address instead of Google, and she can't easily log on?

Instagram used to be a perfect place for this, but the heyday of the funny wedding hashtag is long gone. People rarely post photos to the main feed anymore, and they certainly don't want to post multiple photos of the same event (gotta save it for the monthly photo dump).

So maybe, after all, Shine is onto something. There actually is a gap that needs to be filled for photo-sharing. People want to be able to collect all the photos from one event, like a wedding or high school reunion, taken by people who have different kinds of phones and weaker social ties.

Maybe, in fact, the clunky design is intentional to signal familiarity to less techie or older people. Maybe the time is actually perfect for the return of '00s-era digital photo sharing (old digital cameras are back in style, haven't you heard?). Maybe, just maybe, Marissa Mayer will have another success on her hands here.

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