I am at the annual Outcast CEO Dinner event - Brad Garlinghouse (Yahoo SVP Communications & Communities) and Stewart Butterfield (Cofounder Flickr) are sitting at my table and told me that they will announce the closure of Yahoo Photos tomorrow. The actual closure will occur over the next few months, they say.
The service will be shut down in favor of the newer and more social Flickr, which they acquired in March of 2005. There has long been an issue at Yahoo where newer services have competed with older services, and Yahoo has finally taken some strong action to getting their house in order with a consistent set of product offerings. Garlinghouse has been one of the stronger proponents of this strategy.
Yahoo is not forcing transition to Flickr - instead, users are being given the option of choosing among a number of top photo sharing sites. If you are a current Yahoo! Photos user, you will be given the option to export all your photos into Flickr (a one-click process) or you will be able to export to a few other services such as Photobucket, Snapfish, Kodak Gallery or Shutterfly. Most of these services have built special tools to transition users, Butterfield said. Users will also be able to download full sized original photos, or order CDs and prints at a discount to the normal price. “We have no interest in forcing anyone to switch to Flickr” Butterfield said. “We want happy users.”
Yahoo Photos is currently the largest photo sharing site on the Internet, with around 2 billion stored photos. Flickr, by comparison, has around 500 million photos. But Flickr is also growing much faster than Yahoo photos and coincidentally has just exceeded Yahoo! Photos in traffic, according to Comscore.
The first graph below shows only U.S. traffic for Flickr and Yahoo. The table below that shows March Comscore numbers for the worldwide audience.
Butterfield also confirmed that Flickr will “soon” allow users to upload videos in addition to photos.