Yahoo Inc is shutting down Yahoo Photos, its first-generation photo storage site, and asking users to move instead to Yahoo's Web 2.0 photo sharing site, Flickr, a Yahoo official said on Thursday.
In June, tens of milllions of registered users of Yahoo Photos will be notified of various options including upgrading to Yahoo's Flickr service or various outside-photo storage sites, according to Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield.
Yahoo also will offer consumers the option of loading their photos on competing sites when users are notified next month.
These include PhotoBucket, the most popular online photo sharing service among users of social network sites like News Corp's MySpace or more conventional photo printing and storage site such as Kodak Gallery, Shutterfly Inc or Snapfish, he said.
"Flickr will get top-billing, of course," he said in an interview about the plan to give users mulitple alternatives.
The move follows the explosive surge in growth by PhotoBucket, an independent photo storage site based in Palo Alto, California, from a quarter of the market a year ago to around 40 per cent last month, according to Hitwise Inc data.
In the same period, Yahoo Photos' share has been cut two- to three times over to around 5.8 per cent of the US market. Flickr, meanwhile, has grown to 4.5 per cent, up from 3.7 per cent, according to Hitwise US Web audience data.
Yahoo continued to support both Photos and Flickr over the past two years, reflecting the different audiences of the two sites.
Yahoo Photos is a more conventional photo-finishing site, full of family snapshots, while Flickr has attracted a passionate fan base of amateur and professional photographers who use the site to share digital photos online, and for whom printing is largely an afterthought.
According to data from comScore supplied by Yahoo a year ago, Yahoo Photos counted 30 million registered users, who had uploaded 2 billion photos as of June 2006.
By contrast, PhotoBucket rose to 32 million users in 2006 from 12 million users in 2005. It is set to grow to around 62 million users by the end of 2007, PhotoBucket Chief Executive and co-founder Alex Welch said in a recent interview.
Butterfield and co-founder, Caterina Fake, his wife, sold Flickr to Yahoo in 2005. Butterfield is now a director of product management at Yahoo.
(Additional reporting by Braden Reddall in San Francisco)