Yahoo may build links between Yahoo Photos and Flickr, though it has no plans to consolidate the photo-sharing services.
"There are no plans to merge Yahoo Photos and Flickr," said Will Aldrich, Yahoo Photos director. "But there are exciting integration opportunities." Aldrich declined to speculate on ways the two could be linked.
Although Yahoo Photos and Flickr are run independently of each other, their respective teams collaborate and share ideas, he said. Evidence of this is the photo tagging and sharing features that Flickr popularized and that are now being incorporated into Yahoo Photos, he said.
These and other enhancements became available to all U.S. users of Yahoo Photos on Thursday, after having been publicly tested since early June. Yahoo will roll out the improved Yahoo Photos to users outside the U.S. by the end of this month.
Another Yahoo Photos feature debuting on Thursday is a retooled user interface that functions like a desktop PC application with drag-and-drop functionality. Yahoo is also making APIs (application programming interfaces) available for external developers to create Yahoo Photos applications and add-on features.
As Yahoo Photos is incorporating Flickr features, Flickr may also benefit from innovations from Yahoo Photos and other Yahoo teams, Aldrich said.
The main reason Yahoo plans to keep two separate photo sites is that their respective audiences are very different. In that sense, Flickr and Yahoo Photos don't compete nor overlap much with each other, he said.
For example, most Yahoo Photos users would rather share their photos with a limited circle of friends and family than with a broad audience, he said.
Yahoo Photos is the company's original photo storage and management site. Yahoo acquired Flickr in March 2005 when it bought Ludicorp Research and Development, the privately held Vancouver company that ran it.
As a startup, Flickr revolutionized the online photo site market with a service that fostered interaction among users by letting them categorize their photos with tags, share their albums and comment on each other's work.
Flickr's successful approach to photo sharing and management has become a model for many others to follow, including Google, which recently "flickrized" its Picasa service.