Yahoo! has announced that it will close its photo-sharing site Yahoo! Photos on Sept. 20. The company will offer Yahoo! Photos users the opportunity to transfer their images to Flickr, Kodak Gallery, Shutterfly, Snapfish or Photobucket. Fickr is a Yahoo-owned site.
In their release, Yahoo stated: "Of course, we hope you'll join us at Flickr (you can even use your Yahoo! ID), but we also realize that Flickr may not be for everyone."
The move was explained as: "For some time now, we've supported two great photo sharing services, Yahoo! Photos and Flickr. But even good things come to an end, and we've decided to focus all our efforts on Flickr - the award-winning photo-sharing site that Time magazine has even called "completely addictive."
Should professional photographers care what happens to a photo-sharing site?
Flickr has more than1 billion images from around the world and is growing at the rate of about 2,400 images a minute. Despite this huge number, Flickr's share of the photo-sharing market is under 7%, according to research by Hitwise, which also found that Photobucket, recently acquired by Fox, has 44% of the photo-sharing market.
Still, Flickr has yet to devise a system that makes their images easily available to commercial users. But it has been exploring the possibility for over a year.
In February, we reported that Flickr founder Stewart Butterfield told CNN that Flickr has been thinking "for a long time" about licensing rights to its pictures, just like iStockphoto. "Everyday we see people buying photos from Flickr users, and it's a very complicated, difficult and frustrating process for both sides," said Butterfield. "It's something we'll be looking at more closely and probably doing some stuff in the next year."
The Web has made it easier for amateurs to make their images available for commercial licensing. Piper Jaffray statistics indicate that commercial users are increasingly going to micropayment sites to find the images they need. If Flickr can find a way to make even a small portion of the images on its site available to commercial customers, it could further dilute the number of images professional users will buy from existing stock photo sites.
Is Yahoo's move to consolidate a first step to Flickr's making images available to commercial customers? It is worth watching.