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AT&T, Yahoo Make a Picture Pact

AT&T  and Yahoo  unveiled a new online photo service for users looking for a better way to share digital pictures.

Aimed at broadband subscribers, AT&T Yahoo Photos allows images to be tagged and shared from multiple devices, according to the two companies.

Users can create Smart Albums, or online "playlists" of photos that detect newly tagged photos and automatically recognize and add tagged photos to online albums, the companies added.

And along with sharing digital photos online, users of the new AT&T Yahoo Photos service can order prints for local pickup or create photo gifts.

"AT&T Yahoo Photos enables users to spend less time maintaining their photo collections and more time viewing and sharing them with family and friends," Will Aldrich, director of Yahoo Photos, said in a statement.

Integrated with Yahoo's e-mail and IM services, AT&T Yahoo Photos includes much of the functionality of Flickr, a popular community-based service allowing users to share and comment on photo collections, according to an AT&T spokesperson.

"The new community-based photo features, such as photo-tagging, foster user interaction in ways that weren't possible before for AT&T Yahoo broadband customer," explained Kieran Nolan, AT&T Broadband vice president, in a statement.

Yahoo bought Flickr in 2005 with a goal to improve the photo services offered by the Internet search company.

Flickr's popularity has skyrocketed. Visits jumped 346 percent last year, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

And in July, Yahoo Photos had 11.5 million total unique visitors and Flickr had 5.7 million total unique visitors, according to CommScore.

While no formal integration between AT&T Yahoo Photos and Flickr is planned, there will be some cross-pollination of features where it makes sense, said Yahoo spokesperson Kim McIntyre.

The online photo-sharing market is only growing in popularity, with companies adding features to existing products to enhance their performance.

This week, Google  announced it acquired Neven Vision to improve ways in which people search for photos in Picasa, its digital photo management software.

Picasa also has a community feature that is similar to the AT&T Yahoo Photos' Smart Albums feature.

An AT&T survey revealed most digital photographers fall into five groups, the largest described as "Underexposed."

Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed said they leave photos on their computers, not knowing how to share the pictures.

Other digital photographers include those that keep images in the camera.

More photographers are bucking the trend, taking digital photos and sharing them online, according to the survey.



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