Google, Yahoo!, Kodak–A Race To Buy Photobucket?

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New data from internet traffic measurement firm Hitwise shows that Photobucket’s share of market among photography websites was 41% in March. Yahoo! Photos (YHOO) and Flickr had about 5% of the market and Kodak (EK) Gallery had a little over 3%.

24/7 Wall St. has estimated that Photobucket, with 17 million unique visitors last month, is worth about $1 billion. For web operations trying to build total audience and an array of services as Yahoo! is, Photobucket is one of the few large independent sites left. Google (GOOG) has a photo section called Picasa, so it also might be a candidate to purchase the largest online photo site.

But, the company that really needs Photobucket is Kodak. At the core of the company’s plan to rebuild itself is its digital camera, photo printing, and photo kiosk operations. What it lacks is a very large presence online where photos can be shared and which encourages consumers to take, exchange and print pictures.

At this point, Wall St. has left Kodak for dead. Its stock traded for almost $95 in 1997. It now changes hands for about $23.50. With a market cap of almost $7 billion, it could still buy Photobucket and become the world’s leader in online photo sharing.

It will take that much to get Kodak back on its feet.

Douglas A. McIntyre can be reached at He does not own securities in companies that he writes about.