Is this the end for digital-photofinishing pioneer Shutterfly? Or is it a new beginning? Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that the company is looking to file for an IPO or possibly seek out a suitor.

Shutterfly is good at what it does. It allows users to upload digital snapshots and then order everything from traditional prints to greeting cards, mugs, and even hardbound photo books featuring their original uploads.

The strategy has worked for Shutterfly; it has supposedly been profitable for three years now. That would make an IPO over an outright sale a no-brainer -- if not for the stigma attached to old-school digital-photo sites.

The problem is that investors see digital-photofinishing pioneers such as Shutterfly, Kodak (NYSE:EK), and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) as dinosaurs. With consumers flocking to photo-sharing sites that emphasize tags, ratings, and community as a viral traffic-building tool over ordering up prints, the old guard is finding that it's not easy to compete.

So even though Shutterfly is making money, growth in the future is only going to get harder if the incentives for new shutterbugs to upload their pictures are pointing to sites such as Facebook, CNET Networks' (NASDAQ:CNET) Webshots, and News Corp.'s (NYSE:NWS) MySpace.

Consumers don't need their mugs on mugs when free photo-sharing is as logical as it is currently fashionable. And this reality is stinging filmmakers and photofinishers such as Kodak and Fuji (NASDAQ:FUJIY) more than it is Shutterfly. However, it may not be enough of a distinction in Shutterfly's favor to justify a worthy IPO price, when hungrier rivals or private-equity firms that know better may be willing to pay more.

So sit up straight and look pretty, Shutterfly. Your days as a swinging single appear to be numbered.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has never tried to shake it like a Polaroid picture. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.