set to announce that it will close its online photosharing website Yahoo! Photos in favor of Flickr, the web 2.0 darling that it purchased two years ago. According to web metrics firm Hitwise, Yahoo! Photos is currently the number 2 photo website on the web, behind Photobucket, which has seized 40% of the market on the back of strong usage among MySpace visitors. Over 50% of Photobucket's traffic comes from MySpace, compared to around 3% for Yahoo! Photos.Yahoo! is
Flickr, meanwhile, has gained on Yahoo!'s main photo property, jumping from the #6 photo website last year, to the #3 position today. According to Charlene Li of Forrester Research, the move is a no-brainer.
Because Flickr has tools that allow users to embed metadata -- tags, EXIF info, etc. -- directly into photos, Flickr images tend to be easier for photo search engines to index, says Li. Yahoo! had no choice but to make this move, she told USA Today.
Yahoo! plans to move users off of the Photos property over the next three months, but will be taking an unorthodox approach and not forcing people to Flickr. Users will be given the option of exporting their images to other sites, including competitors Shutterfly, Kodak Gallery, Snapfish and Photobucket. Exporting to Flickr will be a one-click process, according to Yahoo!
Flickr generally offers most of the tools that Yahoo! Photos offers. One area in which
Yahoo! currently trumps Flickr, however, is prints. While Flickr has started to offer
some printed products, such as photo cards via a partnership with Moo, Yahoo! Photos offers a full range of photo printing options, such as mugs, aprons, posters, and even custom bottles of wine
the mail and for in store pick-up at Target department stores. I would guess that this
might be an important feature for many users, especially since Yahoo! Photos generally
caters to an older audience, which Yahoo! will need to move over to Flickr.
It is interesting to note that comScore reports a different story on traffic to photo websites than does Hitwise. According to March comScore data, Yahoo! Photos and Flickr both trump Photobucket for worldwide traffic and in the US, Flickr just overtook Yahoo! Photos for the first time. Together, they would by far equate to the largest photo website by traffic.
So what does this all mean? At one time, Yahoo! Photos was the place to share photos online, and it still hosts many more photos than Flickr (about 2 billion versus 500 million), but Yahoo!'s homegrown property was never able to match the buzz that Flickr created. Flickr has soared among a younger demographic, and merging the two competing properties was inevitable. Everyone expected it when Yahoo! bought Flickr in March 2005 (the way we all expect del.icio.us to eventually kill off MyWeb), it was just a matter of which site would eat the other.
This appears to be the famed "Peanut Butter Manifesto" in action as Yahoo! consolidates some of its redundant services (in fact, Brad Garlinghouse, SVP of Yahoo! and author of the memo, told Rafe Needleman last night he was "eating his own peanut butter"). But, Bill Tancer of Hitwise expects that Yahoo! will lose some users in the switch. What do you think?