Yahoo touches up Flickr amid internal turmoil

Sep 28, 2011 By MICHAEL LIEDTKE , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- It isn't a pretty picture at Yahoo Inc. right now, but that's not stopping the beleaguered Internet company from touching up its popular photo-sharing service, Flickr.

Yahoo made that clear Wednesday with the introduction of a new way for friends in different locations to simultaneously browse through pictures. The company also unveiled its first official application for the millions of devices running on Google Inc.'s Android software.

It's part of a broader effort by Yahoo to recapture some of the ground that it has lost in recent years to Facebook, which has emerged as an advertising and photo-sharing hub. Yahoo touted its free Android app as a sign of its determination to become a bigger force on mobile phones and tablets.

Yahoo's product managers are making the push at a time of internal turmoil.

The company, which is based in Sunnyvale, Calif., is trying to figure out whether it makes sense to sell part or all of its business after firing tough-talking Carol Bartz as CEO earlier this month. Employees were told the process could take several months in an e-mail last week from Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock and co-founders Jerry Yang and David Filo. In the meantime, Chief Financial Officer Tim Morse is also filling in as interim CEO.

"Our mission is to speed innovation, to bring great new products to the market," Steve Douty, Yahoo's vice president of applications management told reporters Wednesday. "That is not going to change. We are moving ahead full steam just like we have before."

Flickr's newest sharing tool, called "Photo Session," is designed to replicate the experience of leafing through an old-fashioned photo album, even if the people who are browsing are located thousands of miles apart. Any of Flickr's nearly 170 million users can activate a session by obtaining a special link that can be sent to other invitees. A photo session can be done on iPhones, iPads and personal computers using the Safari, Firefox and Chrome browsers. The feature doesn't currently work on Internet Explorer or Opera browsers.

Photo Session also doesn't work on the new Android app, but Yahoo plans to address that shortcoming in future updates.

Until now, the millions of people with Android devices had to rely on apps designed by non-Yahoo programmers. Douty cited the Android app as just one of several that Yahoo will be releasing in the next few months to expand its reach beyond the 137 million mobile devices that currently use some of its services.

In doing so, Yahoo hopes to revive its revenue growth after several years of erosion that have contrasted with steady growth at Google and Facebook. Yahoo's financial funk has depressed its stock price and ushered out three CEOs in less than five years - Bartz, Yang and Terry Semel.

Yahoo shares fell 35 cents Wednesday to close at $14.19.

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