Yahoo! vs. Google in Motion

Heads up, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) ! Yahoo!'s (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) Flickr is now serving up videos.

OK, so Flickr is no YouTube killer, and it doesn't aspire to be. Uploading videos is limited to Flickr's paying accounts. The clips must also be no longer than 90 seconds, well shy of the 10-minute maximum imposed on YouTube's free non-partner accounts. In fact, none of the 40 most-viewed videos on YouTube of all-time would make the cut on Flickr because of their lengths.

So don't go looking for music videos, video blog confessionals, or sketch comedy on Flickr.

It's just as well. Flickr is more about visual art, so perhaps that's why Flickr is actually allowing for chunkier data files on its short clips to bring out the best resolution possible rather than just lightning-quick pop culture consumption.

Then again, that's how things start.

Who knows if, a year from now, Flickr isn't letting everyone upload longer clips in an effort to supplant the vanilla-bean Yahoo! Video search portal. It can happen. Last year Yahoo! folded its fledgling Yahoo! Photos into Flickr, so why shouldn't moving pictures follow?

Things can change in a hurry when it comes to eye candy. One moment News Corp. (NYSE: NWS  ) was blocking Photobucket from MySpace. The next it was acquiring it. One moment American Greetings (NYSE: AM  ) was just a greeting card company. The next it was a photo-sharing giant after snapping up companies like PhotoWorks and CNET Networks' (Nasdaq: CNET  ) Webshots. One moment photo-sharing is a tough nut to monetize by mostly photo printing specialists. The next it's a wide-open assault on e-tail through companies like Stamps.com (Nasdaq: STMP  ) and Shutterfly (Nasdaq: SFLY  ) .

So, sure, Flickr adding video is noteworthy, but it's not entirely news. TechCrunch has been reporting on its inevitable arrival for ages. The real key is where Flickr will take video in the future.

It can't end here, and it won't. Flickr's strength lies in its tech-savvy community of shutterbugs who bond and tag uploads to create more relevant searches. If you don't think that kind of approach can dent YouTube in a year or two, you just haven't seen how quickly the winds can change in this niche.

Heads up, Google. Pencils down.


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