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Webshots vs. Flickr?

My friend and general good-guy Robert Scoble had this to say about CNET acquiring HeyPix:

Congrats to James Park. He's president of Windup Labs. That's the company that did HeyPix and they just sold to CNET.

This might just be a bigger photo deal than Flickr going to Yahoo. Here's why.

It's joining Webshots. Now, don't know about Webshots? I didn't either until recently. But Webshots has 23 million members (Flickr has less than a million). and they get 750,000 uploads a day. More uploads in five days than Flickr has had in all of its existence.

I have to say, this really surprised me. Can Webshots really be that big? I suppose I haven't paid much attention to them because they aren't really talked about all that much in the blog world:

Webshots vs. Flickr (Blog Mentions)

Meanwhile, Flickr has been growing at an exponential rate:

Webshots vs. Flickr (Daily Traffic)
So with all due respect to Robert, this is why the Flickr acquisition is far more important.

As for why Flickr is growing so much faster than any other photo sharing service on the Web, I'm not the most qualified person to answer that... but I'm fairly sure it goes back to something I wrote a couple of weeks ago:

Open API Web services + open data repositories = Web ecosystems
Flickr is an ecosystem. Is Webshots? Is Ofoto? Is Shutterfly?

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Webshots vs. Flickr?:

» Webshots versus Flickr from Oliver Thylmann's Blog
Frank Boosman posts about Webshots vs. Flickr in relation to CNET buying HeyPix who seem to be joining Webshots. The thing is that based on photos hosted and traffic, Webshots is huge, but as Frank points out, Flickr is being [Read More]

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Frank Boosman who is on Flickr's board of directors wrote in response to Robert Scoble's recent post this comes in light of CNET's latest acquisition of HeyPix. Congrats to James Park. He's president of Windup Labs. That's the company that... [Read More]

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Comments

I think it's potentially bigger than Flickr. Measuring Webshots by how often they're mentioned in blogs is like measuring Coke against Izze or Red Bull. The latter may get the buzz, but I'll take Coke's market share any day.

The key difference is they have a screensaver product that puts them on the desktop of everyone who likes screensavers, not just everyone who likes RSS.

Ask yourself this: which one will your Mom bother to download & install? Which one has crossed the chasm (groan)?

If I Google "Coke", "Izze", and "Red Bull", I get the following results:

  • "Coke": 5,190,000 hits
  • "Izze": 11,500 hits
  • "Red Bull": 928,000 hits
So perhaps buzz isn't such a bad method of valuing properties after all, at least if one uses Google as a gross measure of buzz.

Now, technically, you wrote, "mentioned in blogs", not "mentioned on the Web". So let's do Technorati searches:

  • "Coke": 127,703 blog mentions
  • "Izze": 156 blog mentions
  • "Red Bull": 21,284 blog mentions
So, when it comes to buzz, both Google and Technorati agree that Coke has much more of it than either Red Bull or Izze. So by your logic, Flickr is vastly more valuable than Webshots.

You mention Webshots having a screensaver. Flickr has an open API that enables any developer to create a screensaver. Here's one for you.

You ask me to consider which one my Mom will bother to download and install. Take another look at the graph of Website traffic in the post. Clearly lots of Moms must be using Flickr, because its traffic is rising by an order of magnitude every three to four months. So ask yourself this: which would you rather own, the service that is larger today, or the service that has 10 times the buzz and is growing 20 times faster?

I understand your personal investment in this topic. But, as a customer (I have a flickr account), you've actually lost my trust a bit. Because I see your arguments as being misleading in a number of ways:

"I have to say, this really surprised me. Can Webshots really be that big? I suppose I haven't paid much attention to them because they aren't really talked about all that much in the blog world..."

* You're a fallible human being (as are we all). Just because you haven't heard of something doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

* So, they aren't blogged much. Maybe. I myself have never been terribly satisfied with any of the methodologies of blog-tracking services, so it's hard to say. But... So what? Blogs are not the end-all and be-all of net communication. Esepcially if you search only on English language terms (more in a moment).

* Your charts are what Tufte might call "chartjunk". By your own figures in the top chart, the blogs who don't talk either about flickr or Webshots are 99.8% vs. 99.95% or so respectively. Distorting the scale by chopping out the feet and feet of screen space needed to show the 99% that isn't there is just plain misleading. In the bottom chart, flickr's ranking levelled off at the beginning of 2005 -- one could just as easily infer that flickr's ranking has been fairly steady for 3 of the 12 months shown. The most recent 3 months at that. Meanwhile, 950-975 places above you, Webshots has been remarkably consistent for a year.

* Being also a Webshots account holder, I've browsed through their galleries before. And, yes, this is anecdotal, but my impression is that Webshots is very big in places like Europe and Brasil. Given your emphasis on bloggers, I can see how this could easily go under your radar, because Amurrican bloggers, lord love 'em, don't notice the rest of the world very much except for travel. (This is true of techies in general. A very large software company I know offers no Spanish-language support for the US, despite 10-15% of their users being Latino. They end up referring customers to their Mexican subsidiary.)

So, basically, you come across as an auto executive in Detroit in the 1970s, going, "What do you mean people are buying Japanese cars?" Or a game developer who really likes First Pesron Shooters, going, "What do you mean The Sims is the best-selling PC game of all time? Where's the gameplay? None of my l33t d00dz play that!"

You may well be right, at the end of the day... But the presentation style here is less than forthcoming.

First, let me make it clear that I have nothing at all against Webshots. I really don't. I was simply responding to an assertion by a friend that their parent company's acquisition of HeyPix might be more important (along some axis) than Yahoo's acquisition of Flickr. That's it.

So, they aren't blogged much. Maybe. I myself have never been terribly satisfied with any of the methodologies of blog-tracking services, so it's hard to say. But... So what? Blogs are not the end-all and be-all of net communication. Esepcially if you search only on English language terms (more in a moment).
As far as I know, BlogPulse doesn't discriminate in favor of English-language blogs. Moreover, I just ran searches using Technorati and came up with roughly comparable numbers -- about 20:1 in favor of Flickr. So absent evidence to the contrary, I'm going to take their statistics as real.
Your charts are what Tufte might call "chartjunk". By your own figures in the top chart, the blogs who don't talk either about flickr or Webshots are 99.8% vs. 99.95% or so respectively. Distorting the scale by chopping out the feet and feet of screen space needed to show the 99% that isn't there is just plain misleading.
Speaking as a fan of Tufte's work, having my work called "chartjunk" isn't very fun. It's also inaccurate. You're right that the vast majority of blog entries mention neither Flickr nor Webshots. But that was irrelevant to my point, which was simply about the relative frequency of blog mentions of the two services.
In the bottom chart, flickr's ranking levelled off at the beginning of 2005 -- one could just as easily infer that flickr's ranking has been fairly steady for 3 of the 12 months shown. The most recent 3 months at that. Meanwhile, 950-975 places above you, Webshots has been remarkably consistent for a year.
Is it possible that Flickr's growth has leveled? Yes. I seriously doubt it, but it's possible. But if one were to generate a trendline based on the Flickr traffic data above, it would certainly be exponential.
Being also a Webshots account holder, I've browsed through their galleries before. And, yes, this is anecdotal, but my impression is that Webshots is very big in places like Europe and Brasil. Given your emphasis on bloggers, I can see how this could easily go under your radar, because Amurrican bloggers, lord love 'em, don't notice the rest of the world very much except for travel.
Have you read through my blog?
So, basically, you come across as an auto executive in Detroit in the 1970s, going, "What do you mean people are buying Japanese cars?" Or a game developer who really likes First Pesron Shooters, going, "What do you mean The Sims is the best-selling PC game of all time? Where's the gameplay? None of my l33t d00dz play that!"
In the 1970s, the US market share of Japanese auto manufacturers was much smaller than their US competitors, but was growing rapidly. That sounds more like Flickr to me!

Again, I really have nothing against Webshots. I'm a Flickr fan. Given the acquisition, I have no ongoing incentive to promote Flickr except that I like it and the team behind it. My specific point in the original entry was simply that I think Flickr is a more significant acquisition than HeyPix. On any sort of reasonable basis of measurement, I can't see how that is arguable. As for the broader issue, the Flickr team has taken an ecosystem approach to building their service. To the best of my knowledge, the Webshots team has not. There is definitely room for plenty of different takes on photo sharing.

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