The sad news today: Flickr founders Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield are leaving Yahoo. Flickr has thrived despite being owned by Yahoo, and much of its ongoing success has been down to Fake and Butterfield keeping control over the layout and feature set on the site. If you're like me, the only reason you actually have a Yahoo login or regularly use a Yahoo login is due to Flickr and nothing else. With both gone the site will be left to a Yahoo design team that.. well...creates stuff like this. Many users kept using Flickr post Yahoo acquisition in loyalty to Butterfield and Fake, but with both gone some users will be looking elsewhere. So what's on offer?
Smugmug is a leader in the Flickr alternatives space. Great looks are combined with good traffic and a strong community to deliver a viable and attractive alternative. The one catch though: Smugmug is a paid service with only a free trial period, a speedhump for the majority of Flickr users on a free account, but premium Flickr users with pro accounts won't mind paying $39.95/ yr for unlimited uploads and storage. Smugmug also offers video hosting for $59.95/ yr, although with a huge range of free options in the video space I don't immediately see the appeal. Zooomr
Zooomr was once the Flickr in waiting, but after uptime issues last year the site now calls itself a "social utility" that offers a Twitter style short message service. Founder Kristopher Tate has also been focusing on the Japanese market. Worth consideration as the traffic is reasonable and the user base fairly active. Photobucket
Before you ask, the answer is yes, Photobucket. The MySpace (FIM) owned Photobucket has matured past its roots as a photo uploading site for social network profiles and is now a fully fledged photo sharing site with its own community. The selling point: stable, strong ownership means that you'll never lose your photos. The downside: it's still as ugly as sin. Great for 12 year olds with ADHD, bad for anyone older than 25 with 20/20 vision. Picasa Web Albums
Google has long lagged in photo sharing, but more and more lately images hosted on Picasa Web Albums keep popping up. Focused on Google's excellent Picasa photo editing tool, Google offers functional and easy to use photo hosting that will never go down. For Mac users there is a Picasa photo uploader which looks nearly identical to the Flickr equivalent, so the switch isn't that big. My guess is that Picasa Web Albums is the next big service in photo sharing, although it won't appeal to serious photographers. Also like most things Google, it's not exactly pretty either.
Apple's Dot Mac (soon to be Mobile Me) service isn't cheap, but the built in support for photo galleries within iPhoto creates seriously good looking photo galleries. The downside is a complete lack of social sharing or social anything really, it's great looking photos and nothing else. I personally use this service for private galleries, or to be more precise photos my 5 year old son has taken that I want to share only with family and close friends.
23 is the smallest service we've put on this list, but it stands out as being a simple, well designed, attractive photo sharing site with a active community. The risk with smaller services is that they might not go the distance, however everything feels right about this site.
I'm not about to cancel my Flickr membership, but already I know I'm not alone in considering other services, so I hope the list helps. If there are any services not included that you'd recommend, leave a comment below, and also let us know why you use them.