Flickr gets competition, but in a weird way

Google today launched Picasa‘s long rumoured ‘web album’ feature. This allows direct creation of online albums from within the photo-management software. Although fairly simplistic currently, Google will undoubtedly add features as time goes by. It may well end up challenging Flickr, but Yahoo – who bought Flickr last year – don’t seem to care.

Having full control of the best and most popular photo-sharing website on the internet, what have Yahoo done? Built a competitor of their own, of course. You see, Yahoo have decided that Flickr is only for “professional and serious hobbyist photographers”, so are launching Yahoo Photos for “the mass market”. It’ll have the same tagging and organisation capabilities, but all photos will be private by default. There are claims that the two are aimed at different markets:

and that is the principal difference between those who will like Flickr (global exposure/RSS feeds) and those who will like Y! Photos (sharing with friends and family)

But it doesn’t make much sense to me. Why not just add some kind of password-protected album feature to Flickr, so that friends and family can view photos without creating an account? A separate system ignores the possibility that people might realise the advantages of sharing their photos, which is the concept that Flickr was built around. I don’t think the younger generation really care all that much about keeping everything private – MySpace users share everything, afaik, and MySpace is hardly doing badly. Plus, it’s not like Flickr doesn’t have privacy support already, if that’s really what people want.

Yahoo, please don’t kill Flickr. I like it. Please sell it to Google.