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Whatever Happened to the Polaroid Instamatic?

Last week bore witness to the fact that recent improvements in camera phones and digital cameras – such as the increased megapixel quality and the precipitous price drops – have poised photo management to be a hotbed of competition.

The nation’s two biggest wireless providers, Cingular and Verizon, announced an agreement to roll out services over the next six months that will make it easy for customers swap photos over wireless networks regardless of their phone plan. This cooperative effort is expected to be a major boon in sales for both companies, but they aren’t the only ones taking advantage of people’s desire share snapshots.

The much rumored Yahoo buyout of the photo management/sharing webservice Flickr had finally come to pass. The next day, HP announced that it had bought the similar photo service, Snapfish.

The two companies may have entirely different targets for the services, however. It’s likely that Yahoo will try to integrate Flickr into its upcoming Yahoo! 360 service, which will attempt to unify blogging, instant messaging, search, and various file-sharing tools. It will also probably play into another service rolled out last week, the Yahoo! Creative Commons Search, which lets users find copyrighted pictures and content that can be used for personal or commercial use.

HP is more likely to be focused on capturing more of the digital-developing market by aligning with some of Snapfish’s printing options. HP’s home-photo-printing products are in a price dropping war with Shutterfly.com and Ofoto’s “order prints” services as well as companies like Walmart, Walgreens, and Costco that offer increasingly cheap digital developing.

But for those of you who are just interested in sharing digital art, check out Ourmedia.org.

Doing It to the Butler

Media mogul Barry Diller has added a search functionality – Ask Jeeves –  to his growing collection of online-enabled search tools. Last week, Diller put in a bid to purchase Jeeves, the fourth largest search engine, for $1.9 billion.

If the deal goes through, Jeeves will likely be integrated throughout Diller’s other holdings:  Expedia (travel), Home Shopping Network (shopping), Citysearch (going out) and Ticketmaster (tickets).

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