I've been reading this morning (via CNET and TechCrunch) that Yahoo! Photos, one of the most widely used photo sharing/storage websites is shutting down in favor of its sister site, Flickr.  Yahoo! purchased Flickr in 2005, and since then, Flickr has been gaining massive popularity.  Flickr's tagging and community features are unique services that users can't find on any other site.  As a result of Flickr's popularity, traffic to Yahoo! Photos has been steadily decreasing since November of '06.

    The transition from Yahoo! Photos to Flickr is coming in the wake of the Yahoo! "Peanut Butter Manifesto ", in which  Brad Garlinghouse, SVP of Yahoo, stated that Yahoo! was spreading its services too think over too many opportunities.  

    "We want to do everything and be everything–to everyone. We've known this for years, talk about it incessantly, but do nothing to fundamentally address it. We are scared to be left out…" the memo reads. "I've heard our strategy described as spreading peanut butter across the myriad opportunities that continue to evolve in the online world. The result: a thin layer of investment spread across everything we do and thus we focus on nothing in particular. I hate peanut butter."

    For the record, I love peanut butter.  But that's beside the point. 

    TechCrunch notes that Yahoo! is not going to force its users to switch to Flickr or to take their photos off the site.  Yahoo! will, however, provide tools so that former Yahoo! Photos users can easily transfer their pictures to Flickr, Snapfish, Photobucket, Kodak Gallery , Shutterfly, or other services.  In addition, TechCrunch reports this:

    "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… Users will also be able to download full sized original photos, or order CDs and prints at a discount to the normal price."

    yahoophotos.gifI'm a Yahoo! Photos user, and have been for several years.  This change doesn't bother me, but I must say, at this point, I'm a bit confused.  I logged in to my Yahoo! Photos account today to see if any changes had been made, and it turns out, nothing has changed. Further, there is absolutely no information or notification about the shutting down of Yahoo! Photos on the site.  Instead, when I logged in to my account, I was greeted by a notice that Yahoo! Photos is in the process of upgrading its services.  This notice is almost a year old and links to a CNET article from June 2006 (on the right is a screenshot of this message).

    Also, I haven't found anything on Flickr notifying users about the change, and I have yet to see these "tools" for transferring my pictures over to a new service.  

    So, Yahoo!, what's the deal?  Are you really shutting down Yahoo! Photos?  I would like to know what's going to happen to my pictures.  If the site is going to go dead soon, Yahoo! really needs to let people know so they don't lose important pictures and data.

    As for transferring to a new service, I have spent some time checking out other photo sharing/storage sites.  Here are the ones I am thinking of using.

    1. Flickr.  This would be the obvious transition.  Flickr has a great tool for uploading directly from your desktop, and has some free services.  However, in order to be able to view and store the full sized versions of your photos, you have to use the paid service, which is $25 a year.  The free version also caps your uploads to 100 MB per month.  For me personally, the 100 MB limit wouldn't work–I have a ton of pictures from the traveling I've done and also countless photos from college and my friends (someone once told me that my digital camera was my "lungs"–I need it to survive).  So that limit would definitely be too constricting.  I'm also cheap and don't like to pay for web services. You can read more about Flickr's services here.

    2. Kodak Gallery. I had never really looked at this site before, but it looks like a pretty good deal.  Kodak Gallery offers "free unlimited online photo storage to you for 12 months from the date you first upload an image to your account".  You can keep storing your photos for free for as long as you want–as long as you make at least one purchase from Kodak Gallery once every 12 months.  This seems like a catch, but actually, any purchase counts…even just a single photo print.  Kodak Gallery isn't as high-tech as Flickr, but since I am a somewhat frequent scrapbooker, I like the printing and editing options it offers.  Definitely worth checking out.  

    3. Sharpcast.  I had never heard of this before this morning, but I am definitely considering using this service. It has a pretty awesome-looking desktop syncing tool where you can sync your photos up with a downloadable Sharpcast program.  The software automatically backs up your pictures online, so you never actually have to upload anything.  It offers free unlimited storage for all photos up to 5×7.  If you have to store photos larger than that (unusual), there is a paid-for plan.  

    Anyway,  Yahoo! Photos really needs to be more proactive about this change.  I think it's really unusual that Yahoo! hasn't provided its users with any notices or information about transitions to Flickr and other sites.  This is the kind of information that should be coming directly from Yahoo! rather than from the blogosphere.