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Flickr’s future not for sale, says Yahoo!

by Sarah Griffiths on 31 January 2011, 10:28

Tags: Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO)

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Picture perfect?

Yahoo! has rubbished rumours that it plans to sell its photo-sharing service, Flickr, despite shrinking traffic.

Rumours had been circulating that Yahoo was planning on offloading Flickr, having recently announced it will shut down a number of ailing web offerings, including Delicious, The New York Times reported.

Yahoo's product chief, Blake Irving Tweeted: "Q. Is Yahoo! committed to Flickr? A. Hell yes we are! We love this product and team; on strategy and profitable."

And while it seems such an enthusiastic response puts the rumours to bed, Flickr reportedly has to fight hard to maintain its user base, especially after Facebook boosted its photo sharing proposition.

Unique visitors to Flickr in the US reportedly fell 16 percent to 21.3m in December, compared with the previous year's figures by comScore, while visitors to Facebook's photo features apparently soared by a staggering 92 percent to 123.9m users.

The newspaper commented that Flickr's performance mirrors that of Yahoo's which is struggling to remain popular, with the firm's chief exec Carol Bartz leading the fight back and dropping products that are not considered central to Yahoo's core strategy. It is thought rumours of a Flickr sell-off were aided by Yahoo's neglect to promote the service of late apart from the odd Tweet.

While Flickr will no doubt remain popular with photography buffs who want quality, it seems that Flickr is losing out with to Facebook in attracting people who want to easily store and share everyday snaps and are not worried about magazine quality.

Moreover, Facebook has boosted its photographic services by letting users share bigger, high resolution images, adding a photo viewer and ability to tag keywords and multiple photos.

Jordan Rohan, an analyst with Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, told The NY Times that Facebook's appeal lies in the fact that many of its users visit the main website daily, which they do not with other photo website, such as Flickr.

"The Internet is starting to rotate around the axis of Facebook - not everything, but everything social. Yahoo and Flickr don't really have the gravitational pull that would make Flickr the axis that they once imagined," he reportedly said.

However, Matthew Rothenberg who heads up Flickr apparently insisted he is not worried about the competition from Facebook, but the quality of Flickr's service.

"To me it's not a numbers game. I think we're trying to build the best experience that we can and make sure our users are engaged and happy and more and more of them will sign up," he reportedly added.

There are apparently no plans to develop a Flickr phone app offering camera effects as many apps already allow users to upload pictures to Flickr anyway, said Rothenberg.

However, website improvements are apparently ‘on the horizon' after Flickr unveiled a re-designed photo page and a system for users to log in with their Facebook and Google IDs, last year.

"What we are trying to do at Flickr ultimately is to use all these new technologies to get back to that experience - to get back to that rich storytelling experience - and to do it in the only way it can be done, with the technologies of today," he reportedly added.

It is believed that Flickr holds around 5bn photos and video clips, with around 3m added every day.

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