Thursday, March 08, 2007

Google's Picasa Set to Steal Momentum from Flickr

I'm a die-hard flickr fan. Far and away, flickr has long been the obvious choice for photo sharing, storage and organization.

I'm also a die-hard Picasa fan. As a desktop photo organization tool, it stands supreme, being far superior to Apple's iPhoto and even the new Windows Vista Photo Album (which is a very close second.)

Yet each application is lacking one critical element for a digital photo panacea: integration with each other. Of course, integration will never happen, as both tools are owned by competing interests (Yahoo and Google).

A while back, Google launched an online element to compete with flickr, called Picasa Web Albums. It integrates the desktop application with online storage/sharing. It was to be the perfect, all-in-one tool for digital photos. Unfortunately, Picasa Web Albums massively underperformed compared to flickr, which is light years ahead in nearly all aspects – community, capacity, ease of use and versatility. Flickr was seemingly impervious to all competition.

That may be about to change. First, as a result of being bought by Yahoo, flickr will soon require all users to sign in with a Yahoo ID. This means opening an account with Yahoo and dealing with the headaches of using the massive, unwieldy portal on a regular basis. It's not surprising that many flickr users are incredibly turned off by this.

But that's not all. Today, Picasa Web Albums recently increased its free storage capacity to 1GB. That's still far shy of what flickr offers, but it's a huge step in the right direction. It also incorporates many new handy tools, bringing it closer to parity with flickr in the versatility area.

Most importantly, the Picasa desktop application works seamlessly with Picasa Web Albums. Given that the online element is still many shades inferior to flickr, Picasa still isn't the panacea we're all looking for. But it's headed that way. Flickr had better look out and make some major advances soon. Otherwise, the way things are developing, they could be losing a lot of people to Picasa. Myself included.

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