Will Facebook Extinguish Flickr?

Justin Lowery

Flickr is still a source for magazine-quality photojournalism, but average point-and-shooters seem to have migrated to Facebook to share their images, experts say. Despite the news, Yahoo has no intention of selling off the profitable photo site.

"The Internet is starting to rotate around the axis of Facebook — not everything, but everything social," Jordan Rohan, an analyst with Stifel, Nicolaus & Company told the New York Times. “Yahoo and Flickr don’t really have the gravitational pull that would make Flickr the axis that they once imagined.”

Flickr, which was bought by Yahoo in 2005 for $35 million, has 21.3 million users in the United States, about a 16 percent drop from a year ago, according to comScore. In that same December 2009 compared to December 2010 time frame, Facebook's photo-sharing tools rose 92 percent to 123.9 million users. (Not to worry, you can log into Flickr with a Facebook account.)

While Matthew Rothenberg, head of Flickr, said that he expected Flickr to continue to grow, its founder Stewart Butterfield found fault with Yahoo for not growing the service when it had the chance because of its bloated corporate structure, the New York Times reported. “We just missed some opportunities that we could have tried if we were independent and raised our own money,” Butterfield said. “Who knows what would have happened?”

Still, Yahoo has no plans to sell Flickr.

The Sunnyvale-based Yahoo has rid itself with several of its properties, but it's unlikely Flickr will be one of them -- with its profitable catalog of around 5 billion images and videos. Facebook is a social media behemoth and will likely stay that way for the next few years, at least until people migrate to other social networks based on interests or criteria. However, Flickr has established itself as a respected and quality site for photos and that reputation should be considered an asset in an Internet climate where quality is frequently considered the lowest common denominator.

Yahoo selling off Flickr would be a very bad move. Luckily, it already seems to know this.

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