Flickr will launch a major makeover in its quest to return to its once young and sexy past, according to reports from BetaBeat.

The new Flickr homepage will look more like the slick, image-only homepages of online visual pinboard Pinterest and photo-sharing app Pixable. There will be little white space on the homepage. In the new version, photos will appear four times their current size. They will lie on the page, scattered about like puzzle pieces slipped together without overlap. Flickr is repositioning itself to look more like an app, which is right in line with Yahoo’s “mobile first” strategy. But this is a Web-only photo community – and if Instagram is showing us anything, it’s that the future of photography is in smartphones.

Next week, users will be able to see changes to their contacts page, which includes the removal of some whitespace. In late March, users will notice significant changes to the photo uploading process.

“This is an evolving design, one that will develop over time, starting with the redesign of the contacts page,” a Flickr spokesperson tells ReadWriteWeb. “There will also be more changes to the site later in the year.”

Photography by Smartphone Users, for Smartphone Users

Photo-sharing service Instagram is only available as an iPhone app, and it already has 15 million users. For more than a year, the Android app has been “coming soon,” or so says CEO Kevin Systrom. According to data from Nielsen, Android users make up more than 46% of the smartphone market. Imagine all those Android users in addition to the already Instagram-obsessed iPhone users. And this is all without an existing Web version of the Instagram service. Plus, with a variety of third-party applications utilizing the Instagram API, the idea of a Web-only service doesn’t feel very important at all.

When Kodak announced that it was preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year, it became clear that the nature of photography was in for a major change. Indeed, point-and-shoots and SLRs were hardly in use; instead, people were taking photos with their iPhones, first and foremost. Kodak launched two Facebook-integrated cameras at CES 2012, but it might be too late even for that.

But here’s an interesting detail: Apple iPhone 4 and 4S, followed by the iPhone 3G and 3GS are the most popular cameras in the Flickr community. If Flickr can retool to focus on these users, who are most likely also Instagram users, there is a chance they can come back. But it will take some careful strategizing, and a product that’s even more gimmicky fun than Instagram’s tinted filters.

Will Flickr’s new layout for the Web matter, especially when photography is becoming mostly smartphone-focused?

Here’s a photo from my now-dormant Flickr stream. I just pinned it to one of my Pinterest boards and posted it to Facebook. It will drift downstream to other users, my friends and the Internet at large. Would that same thing have happened on Flickr?

Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock. Sailboat photograph by Alicia Eler.