In a weird twist of fate it seems that the search giants of old are losing out to the “mini-startups” that are now populating the web.
Usually this happens because a site has better culture (aka social network) than its larger competitors, but how in the world do you explain a photo album site defeating its competitors when it barely qualifies as a social network on its own?
(Hitwise Weblog) When I first wrote about Photobucket last year, many people were surprised by the large amount of traffic it received, as its traffic was mainly driven by users uploading images and posting on their MySpace or other social network pages. Traffic to Photobucket has continued to grow along with MySpace and social networking – from March 2006 to March 2007 its market share of US visits increased by 113% and it captured 41% of visits to the Hitwise Entertainment – Photography category, which contains more than 1,400 websites.
Although Flickr and other sites (like Slide.com) are growing at a tremendous rate, they seem to be playing catch up with Photobucket at best. Picasa Albums is new (so we’ll give them a little grace) but none of the above appears to be in no position to catching up to Photobucket, which (like YouTube) is standing tall as the king of their domain.
Both Flickr and Picasa Web Albums offer their users the ability to comment on each other images, hook up with similar groups and basically provide a community feel to the whole photo social network arena.
Photobucket does not offer any of these, yet users seem to prefer it over to what either Yahoo! or Google have to offer (despite the fact that their pro features outshine what Photobucket has within its closet).
If Photobucket continues at its pace, it may end up finding itself within the sites of a bidding war between the two giants (and possibly Microsoft who seems to be taking third place or less in everything but office and OS).
So what makes Photobucket more attractive than the other sites? I would answer MySpace, but there has to be a better reason than that.