Photobucket, the plain vanilla photo hosting site is now officially the king of online photo business. It now has a whopping 44% of the total market, ahead of old timers – Yahoo, Webshots and Flickr. According to data collected by Hitwise, “its share of visits increased by 34% in the four months from February 2006 to May 2006.” Flickr is growing fast too – up 44% in the past four months.
Why is the company doing so well? Well a lot of MySpace users seem to love the company and host a lot of photos on that site. Amazing – success has nothing to do with Ajax, or cool stuff. It has everything to do with simplicity and giving users what they want.
27 thoughts on “PhotoBucket Rules”
On the contrary, it does uses cool-stuff. The technology is powered by filmloop, which allows you to see the smooth scrolling. And the interesting thing is that filmloop is a pet project of Guy Kawasaki. His bets are paying off. Hats off to the man with the Art of the Start
The majority of people in the US don’t behave like the digital literati. Most don’t go shopping at Apple, Bergdorf, and Tiffany stores. They go to Walmart, HSN, and QVC. Most won’t use these new-fangled technologies that look so pretty. It’s not about pretty. I remember a great marketing professor I had from INSEAD who had the design guys come in from places like Proctor and Gamble. Against their deepest wishes they realized that they had to develop shampoo bottles that were ugly because ugly bottles sold better. People distrusted a product that looked too slick. Either it was expensive or all the work went into the bottle not the shampoo.
There are some new blog templates (see http://blogspottemplates.blogspot.com/) which can be customized with personal images. Most of these templates recommend the user to use photobucket to host the images. Hence, every time the blog is visited by a surfer, a request is made to photobucket to download the image.
So, if you are just looking at traffic hits, this will include a lot of pseudo-hits through blogs etc. Clearly, these hits are in no way an indication of the popularity or simplicity of photobucket.
I think the whole subject of unique-visitor/hit/popularity estimation of websites needs a thorough makeover. Alexa type ratings are already inaccurate and on top of that we have this kinda collateral spam.
More importantly, are they making any money?
I was going to post about the money, but Jacob beat me to it. Basically, I think that web 2.0 intelligensia have more money to spend online than MySpace people. Flickr being no. 6 just on people like me is actually pretty good.
I found this interesting too, particularly the prolific growth. I’m as surprised that Flickr has less than 6% market share as I am of Photobucket’s dominance.
One thing Hitwise’s research doesn’t consider, and I think it’s important relative to the long-term success in this market, is all of these sites respective business models and profitability. I have no idea whether any of these sites are doing a great job of matching escalating infrastructure/bandwidth costs with their revenue model, but I sure would love some perspective on that matter.
It’s interesting to look at the Alexa numbers for these sites: http://www.alexaholic.com/photobucket.com flickr.com webshots.com kodakgallery.com imageshack.com
Flickr’s in the lead.
It seems Flickr might be aimed at people who are more serious about photography and command more views per image. Or it might be that less people to go the Photobucket site since they’re posted on MySpace. Or maybe Alexa toolbar users just disproportionately like Flickr.
It’s too bad we don’t have something like Alexa to measure dollars spent. Then we’d know who really has the market share. Perhaps we need PayPala, AMEXa, MasterCarda to get those stats.
We actually are not powered by filmloop, the contrary, we power most of the filmloops out there. We have been around for 3 years, serving now 18 million users, and yes we have myspace users, but we also have users to over 60,000 unique websites. Photobucket was one of the first to empower users to take their content where they want thru the simple process of uploading to us, and direct linking.
We currently upload over 5 million new images, and that’s all types, photos, animated gif’s, screenshots, etc. and we do video with currently over 30,000 uploads a day.
We are not a photo community like flickr and don’t do tagging, of which we believe they do a great job at. We are more about hosting your visual content in 1 location and providing a fast, reliable service for you to express yourself wherever you want.
Thanks for the writeup, since we aren’t a web 2.0 company, I guess we don’t get the silicon valley love 😉
I’d be happy to talk to anyone about Photobucket.
What should determine if a photo sharing company is making it or not? Unique visitors? Site hits? Alexa ranking? Number of users? Number of hosted photos? Bottom line revenue?
Or all of the above?
I put my thoughts on the numbers here:
Simplicity and giving users what they want. Brilliantly said. Thank you for reminding all of us, so succinctly, why we all build startups. Its not for the Ajax.
Search for word photobucket in craigslist
Now search flickr
Photobucket returns 82,600 results
Flickr returns 886
Photobucket is the most popular website for listing on cragslist…have hardly seen anybody use flickr
Looking at the Alexa numbers and Hitwise doappear to match up. Alexa is all about full page views, not page elements. The Flickr audience is not just creators but spectators as well. If you then look at Alexa Daily Reach, Photobucket and Flickr are very closely aligned.
Looking at the Hitwise numbers describes a scenario where most Photobucket users must link externally. Meaning fewer direct pageviews but a much wider reach. I was playing with the new Flock browser, and it has a feature called photo streams. Use Flock to browse any site and Flickr and Photobucket images are marked so you can view additional content from that publisher. It’s obvious where the hitwise numbers are coming from, Photobucket goes much wider then just blogs.
Om, man – you are sloppy without an editor 😉
Re: “officially the king” – your bar is pretty low for what counts as “official”, but in any case, check the numbers section of my follow-up post on TechCrunch.
“ahead of old timers … Flickr”: Photobucket launched a year before Flickr (and if you remember, Flickr was something pretty different for the first six months or so of its existence, so Photobucket’s been around close to twice as long as Flickr).
Good for Photobucket! Being popular with the Myspace visitors isn’t a bad thing.
I love this: “Amazing – success has nothing to do with Ajax, or cool stuff. It has everything to do with simplicity and giving users what they want.”
There are constantly new players with new ideas coming to the market like for example http://www.miaplaza.com and http://sossoon.net. Large corporations like NewsCorp (MySpace) or Yahoo are not well placed to keep up with grassroots developments. From my point of view KodakGallery, Snapfish and Shutterfly are first generation online photo processors, competing with us http://fotoinsight.com and other pure photo services like, but half heartedly adding online photo sharing. So they are neither here nor there, as they painfully worked out, the required resolution for photographic printing is not good for free online storing online.
Argh – my post on TechCruch didn’t actually get published, so my link above doesn’t work. Here’s what I wrote there:
[Note: I’m a co-founder of Flickr and act as its general manager inside of Yahoo!]
Two comments on this (most people will want to skip right to the numbers section, but it’s less relevant than comparing the products):
I don’t really think of Photobucket as a competitor to Flickr. Though, as the Hitwise blogger says, “what they both do is enable people to share images online”, I’m not sure that that makes a “market”: They serve totally different purposes and I don’t think the people who use them would find either a replacement for the other. Photobucket is great at it’s job, and I humbly think Flickr is too 😉 But when I think marketshare, I think direct alternatives (Toyota vs Honda or Google Search vs Yahoo! Search vs MSN Search).
But even if we accept that there is such a market as “sites that enable people to share/host images online”, these would not be the right sites to include: MySpace itself allows photo uploads and is presumably bigger than Photobucket in serving their own users (as they are reportedly are for videos). Meanwhile, Facebook claims that it is the biggest photo sharing site on the internet. But I’d happily wager than Yahoo! Mail is by far the biggest “photo sharing” site of all in this way of thinking, and Hotmail would be close behind it.
But a list of photosharing sites by marketshare that went:
would seem pretty weird 🙂
And, a different way of looking at it: if you drew a line from Flickr to Photobucket in the “conceptual space of internet products and services” and started extrapolating, that line would probably go to Akamai more than it would to mail or SNSs (and in a way, Photobucket is a consumer counterpart to Akamai’s enterprise service). But anyway …
The Hitwise stats are (a) US only and (b) (apparently?) counting entries in ISP’s proxy logs. So, this is not unique users, or pageviews, or even necessarily image serving traffic (a lot of requests for different infrequently-viewed images will cause more entries in the proxy logs than a smaller number of images each with massive traffic). If that’s how it works (and I actually don’t know) it seems more like they’re counting “marketshare” of lines in ISP proxy log files than any traditional understanding of marketshare.
For purposes of comparison:
Nielsen/NetRatings just announced US numbers for April which were significantly different. Summary (in thousands of unique users):
Photobucket: 7,838 (vs 5,419 a year ago for 45% growth)
Y! Photos: 7,772 (vs 6,439 a year ago for 21% growth)
Kodak: 7,633 (vs 6,508 a year ago for 17% growth)
Webshots: 6,070 (vs 6,070 a year ago for -15% growth)
Flickr: 4,816 (vs 1,080 a year ago for 346% growth)
Meanwhile, Comscore’s US numbers for May have been out for a while. For the sites mentioned by Hitwise (Hitwise didn’t include AOL Pictures, but if they had, they’d be in the middle of the pack on these two lists):
Y! Photos: 11,328 (vs 9,778 a year ago, for 16% growth)
Photobucket: 10,292 (vs 3,224 a year ago, for 217% growth)
Webshots: 8,478 (vs11,082 a year ago, for -23.5% growth)
Kodak: 7,431 (vs 5,625 a year ago, for 32.1% growth)
Flickr: 5,163 (vs 923 a year ago, for 459% growth)
Imageshack: 5,006 (vs 3,593 a year ago, for 39% growth)
SnapFish: 4,755 (N/A)
Shutterfly: 4,126 (vs 2,732 a year ago, for 51% growth)
PIcturetrail: 1,286 (vs 2,020 a year ago, for -36% growth)
Slide: 1,072 (N/A)
Comscore’s latest worldwide figures for all these sites only go to April:
Y! Photos: 30,736 (vs 27,217 a year ago, for 13% growth)
Imageshack: 23,862 (vs 12,448 a year ago, for 92% growth)
Webshots: 19,755 (vs 24,901 a year ago, for -21% growth)
Photobucket: 16,763 (vs 8,896 a year ago, for 88% growth)
Flickr: 16,516 (vs 3,423 a year ago, for 383% growth)
Kodak: 9,552 (vs 7,313 a year ago, for 31% growth)
SnapFish: 6,714 (N/A)
Shutterfly: 4,609 (vs 3,841 a year ago, for 20% growth)
PIcturetrail: 2,493 (vs 2,778 a year ago, for -10% growth)
Slide: 1,360 (N/A)
Photobucket says they have 18m users, and I have no reason to disbelieve them. So, Photobucket’s self-reported numbers are pretty close to Comscore’s (Comscore or any other reporting system is never going to be perfect – I have access to internal data for two of the properties on that list, so calibration is a little easier). Comscore’s numbers are fairly close for Flickr too (the ratios are off though: they seem to undercount Flickr’s US traffic and overcount the rest of the world).
Bottom line: NNR, Comscore, Alexa, Photobucket’s public statements and our internal data all roughly agree. E.g., in unique users worldwide, Photobucket:Flickr is about to 1:1, while in the US the ratio is somewhere between 3:2 and 2:1 — as opposed to the 7:1 Hitwise reports.) Averaging them all out, Hitwise is definitely the outlier by a very wide margin. So, take it with a grain of salt.
 And other anecdotal facts align with these, like the number of incoming links to Photobucket and Flickr on Goolgle. Flickr with 260k and Photobucket with 218k.
Someday, Photobucket will fess up to the public and let them know they have not been profitable since they got their funding.
call me dense – but I don’t understand a couple of things.
doesn’t myspace allow you to post photos directly on myspace? then why do I need photobucket?
what does photobucket charge for – is it all free? ads?
MySpace only allows you to upload 12 photos, but will allow you to add unlimited images by including image tags or Flash objects in your profile’s HTML.
thu co khoe ko anh day ma thui
o nha tap chua thu co biet minh la ai ko
minh la nguoi dat than cua ban
thoi chao nha
Interesting numbers, and it’s hard to tell who is really “winning” the mindshare of image hosters worldwide. However, one thing is clear, if you want to build a service that partners with any of these services, you have to admit that Photobucket is a huge player and worth considering. It might also be worth working in services that incorporate more than one of them.
Webshots has a complicated user interface which looks good until you use it, since it does not deliver, and then again it censors lots of stuff with dumb ban words, which can be circumvented with some imagination.
Photobuckets user interface is minimal and simple to use, so the teens have no difficulty using it, and as they grow older they may just stick with photobucket?
Consolodation must be on its way tho, now that yahoo are leaving the image gallery market.
I use all three of these for my photography needs, If only one of them could intergrate all the great features of the other two.
Photobucket: – Great for storage and good for sharing. Good layout as well.
– Easy to put on ur web page as well.
Flickr: – Great for sharing and browsing stuff. Good editing tools too!
Snapfish (powered by HP): – GReat printing and gift prices!!! as well as not being ripped off for shipping costs. Without doubt all my printing needs are in snapfish’s hands! unlimited storage as well:)
overall, if your never going to be printing ur pics, want them kept private, and want fast uploading (but make sure u;ve got java!). I say go with photobucket.
If you want to share with the world, and its unlikely u’ll want printing, go with flickr.
And if printing is most important, go with snapfish!