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Flickr pushes Yahoo Photos out of the frame

To eliminate overlap in services, Yahoo will close its Yahoo Photos service in favour of photo sharing Flickr, acquired by Yahoo a little over two years ago and considered by many a pioneer of the Web 2.0 wave of internet innovation.

"People are changing the way they use photography, and we have decided to shift our focus accordingly. [Digital photography] is evolving from its original purpose as a means to preserve memories into a social activity that allows people to communicate and connect," a Yahoo spokeswoman says via e-mail.

The move doesn't come as a complete surprise. Yahoo underwent a significant reorganisation in December to better focus its efforts. Weeks before the reorganisation, a scathing internal memo had leaked. It said Yahoo had to stop spreading a thin layer of "peanut butter" across myriad opportunities and instead focus on key areas. In that memo, Yahoo Photos and Flickr were specifically highlighted as an overlap example.

Still, until now, Yahoo executives had maintained publicly that Yahoo was big enough for the two services because they served two different types of users.

Flickr pioneered sharing and tagging features for photos in 2004, and quickly became a poster child for the Web 2.0 era of community-oriented web sites that foster user interaction, contributions and participation. It revolutionised online photo sites and remains the perceived innovation leader in this market.

Yahoo launched Yahoo Photos in 2000 and acquired Flickr in March 2005. Although Flickr is considered the hipper, more technically advanced one, Yahoo Photos has more monthly unique visitors with 31.1 million to Flickr's 28.4 million, according to comscore Networks. Flickr has almost eight million registered members and 485 million photos.

The reaction of Yahoo Photos users remains to be seen. Yahoo will keep the service operational for another three months and will provide migration services to Flickr as well as to third-party services like Shutterfly, Kodak Gallery, Snapfish and Photobucket. As an incentive, users who choose Flickr will get a free three-month subscription to its paid membership level.