One of my coworkers sent me a link to the blog post PhotoBucket Leads Photo Sharing Sites; Flickr at #6 on the HitWise company blog. The highlights of the post are excerpted below
In the SF tech bubble that I live in, most of the talk about photo sites has been centered on Flickr. In fact, you could get the impression from most people I meet that Flickr is the ONLY site at which you can share and store photos. Examination of the category however, shows that Flickr is #6 among the top 10 photo sharing sites, with a market share of 5.95%. Industry standbys like Yahoo! Photos, Webshots Community, and Kodak Gallery currently rank higher than Flickr.
Photobucket dominates the category, with a 44% market share. It surpassed Yahoo! Photos in January, and its share of visits increased by 34% in the four months from February 2006 to May 2006. Flickr, my friends should be happy to note, has also been growing rapidly, increasing 44% in the past four months, and up from a rank of #9 in this category one year ago (week ending 6/18/05). Slide has also taken off this spring, with its visits increasing more than ten fold in the past four months.
In the comments, someone asked about the methodology and why the HitWise marketshare numbers differ significantly from those of other ratings companies like ComScore. The response is that the HitWise numbers are based on page views from sampling 10 million users while ComScore numbers are for unique users. According the the comment ComScore states that both Flickr and Photobucket get about 16.5 million unique visitors a month while Yahoo! Photos gets about twice that number. Besides the page views versus unique users distinction, another thing that makes this somewhat of an apples to oranges comparison is that the HitWise sample is for Internet users in the USA while ComScore is talking about worldwide usage.
However this is still an instructive set of statistics. For one it shows that even if Flickr does have more people talking about it in the tech blogosphere, Photobucket is generating a lot more page views [mainly through MySpace integration]. Secondly, it shows the value of an integrated suite of social applications [photo sharing, social networking, video sharing, blogging, etc] in engaging users. Flickr may or may not have just as many visitors as Photobucket but it's clear that the average visitor to Photobucket views significantly more photos from the site than the average Flickr visitor. This is primarily due to the fact that Photobucket is one of the top image hosting sites used by MySpace users. This seems to validate the approach of building an integrated social software application like MSN Spaces or Yahoo! 360 instead of a mishmash of narrowly tailored social software applications. Where I think Microsoft and Yahoo! have gone wrong and MySpace has gotten it right is that they rely a lot on an ecosystem of supporting sites for extra features (e.g. image hosting, video hosting, etc) instead of trying to do it all in-house. This enables them to innovate a lot faster since Microsoft and Yahoo! are then competing with multiple companies instead of just one.