ReadWriteWeb – The Web Photo Sharing Site Faceoff

Posted by on Sep 5, 2006 in Uncategorized | No Comments

The Web Photo Sharing Site Faceoff

Written by Alex Iskold and edited by
Richard MacManus.

In this post we profile the red hot photo sharing space, where the blogosphere darling
Flickr is actually trailing in the mass market. Back
in June, Hitwise posted their online photo market

statistics – which showed Photobucket with a
huge market lead at #1 and Flickr at #6. A lot of Photobucket’s lead is due to its high
usage in MySpace pages – 56% of Photobucket’s
traffic is from MySpace, according to Hitwise. So marketing and being part of a large ecosystem are crucial. But also important is having simple and easy to use features. So
we present here a feature-by-feature comparison and also highlight areas where particular
services stand out from the pack. 

Feature Comparison of Photo Sharing Sites

In the table below (which incidentally we did using Zoho Sheet, Zoho’s online spreadsheet) we list
companies from the Hitwise article as well as some additional ‘web 2.0’ photo sharing

Click for full-size

Note that for Alexa rank we highlighted the top 5 scores – Flickr, Photobucket,
Webshots, Kodakgallery, Pbase.

Pros and Cons of each Photo Sharing Site




Flickr (owned by Yahoo!)

innovative, tons of cool features, drag and drop, sharing, RSS, badges, clustering

difficult to use for non tech savvy


simple, limited functionality, badges

perhaps too simple, annoying ads, no sharing and social web features


professional interface, targeting main stream

no sharing and social web features


simple, has all the basic functions, each album has unique URL

no sharing and social web features

Pbase (not in the same space)

stunning professional photography, gallery-based implementation, simple

no sharing and social web features

Picasa (not in the same space yet – owned by

hard to say because it is not apples to apples, but editing photos is nice

basically not (yet) in the same space, not really web-based


music associated with albums, lots of badge options

unbearably annoying ads during sign up, clubs instead of groups, does not seem


professional interface, targeting mainstream

no sharing and social web features

Slide (not in the same space)

runs on top of Flickr, Photobucket, etc. plugs into MySpace, blogs, etc. Fills nice
niche within the space.

focused on making slideshows (it’s a limitation, if you want to consider this service
as a contender).


professional interface, a lot of album options, well thought through

not free


professional interface, targeting mainstream

no sharing and social web features


has lots of social web photo features

ads, somewhat clunky, no tags (at least we could not find them)


conceptually interesting, some innovative UI, uses OpenID for login.

confirmation image gives you instant headache; no geography-only tag
cloud; the maps are cool, but not useful


very well designed, has the most social web features

somewhat slow, lacks printing ability


Where’s Yahoo! Photos? We excluded Yahoo! Photos from this comparison because
we did not have access to the new Yahoo! Photos beta, so we felt it would be unfair to
review it based on the old site.

The browser twist The social browser Flock

has delivered two direct integrations with Flickr and Photobucket. What is interesting
(and also somewhat confusing) is that Flock has made a special version to be distributed
to Photobucket users. It is difficult to say what impact this deal has had on the photo
sharing market so far, but it is likely that browser integration is going to play a major
role in the future.


Firstly, we do not have a single online photo market. There is still a clear
mainstream market led by KodakGallery and Yahoo! Photos. This market is basically
focused on upload/album/print capabilities – and has little to none social

On the other hand, Flickr is a clear leader in the social photo sharing market.
It has unmatched features, usability and community. 

However the overall leader in the photo sharing market in general, and a good
mix between mainstream and social web, is Photobucket. They have been able to add just
enough social features, without getting too complex or fancy, to convert a lot of people
from traditional photo sharing sites.

How is it all going to end up and who is going to win in this market? Time will tell,
but it is likely we will end up having fewer players – and those that stick around will
have a blend of features from the current mainstream and ‘social web’ camps. As for the
bloggers’ favorite, Flickr, the road to mainstream acceptance for Flickr is paved
with tough competition and the need to simplify.