I think it is generally recognized that the Web 2.0 world loves flickr, with its viral, community-focused fun and its AJAXerrific cool. But a recent report from Hitwise shows that flickr is a distant sixth in terms of market share, at just less than 6%, beaten handily by 44% dominator PhotoBucket (the company's competitive strategy: be a storage backend for users who wish to post photos to MySpace), and even by the far less sexy service of flickr's parent, Yahoo! Photos, at 18% (in second place). Webshots Community, Kodakgallery.com (formerly Ofoto.com), and ImageShack all rank ahead of flickr in terms of market share.
There's a story here, that flickr may seem cool but it's not even a big deal in the traffic big dogs. I don't know if I buy it. LeAnn Prescott, who blogs the market share charts, notes the MySpace strategy of PhotoBucket and mentions that three photo sharing sites in the top 10 are getting the vast majority of their traffic from the teen-centric social network, including Imageshack and Slide.
It's all about the growth of the platform, and the longevity of the business strategy. As a hard-core photo enthusiast who lives and breathes Web 2.0, I've used most of the non-MySpace services. I did Webshots Community, then I switched to Ofoto, and when Kodak bought it I was using Yahoo! Pictures and my own web site. And then I discovered flickr. Now I have 1,859 photos uploaded there. I think that I -- an early adopter who has already convinced any number of friends, family, and colleagues to switch to flickr -- am a fair indicator that the prospects for flickr are good. I have to wonder if PhotoBucket and others who rely so much on one source of traffic.
There it is: the real question. Is that one source a long-term play? Will MySpace still be rocking and rolling in three, five, 10 years? I doubt it. I'd put my money on the technology and monetization potential of flickr anyday.