Yahoo has announced that it has acquired web-based email photo archiving and sharing tool Xoopit.

Although the financial terms of the deal haven't been officially disclosed the Wall Street Journal puts the figure at about $20 million.

Based in San Francisco, Xoopit's big USP is that it enables the easy retrieval and sharing of images buried deep in web-based email accounts that could otherwise end up lost and forgotten.

Private galleries

In addition, Xoopit also enables users to create and share private galleries with their friends – undoubtedly a big draw for those wanting to avoid the all-out public glare of hosting images on social networking sites like Facebook.

Initially launched as a Firefox add-on for Gmail the app was extended to the My Photos app for Yahoo Mail in December 2008. According to Yahoo it is now the most popular third-party app on Yahoo Mail.

That should come as little surprise given Yahoo Mail's unlimited storage facility coupled with general user laziness meaning that the web-based email service is now one of the world's largest online image repositories.

Invitation to defect

Despite its acquisition Yahoo says on its blog that Gmail users will continue to enjoy support for the FireFox add-on "for the time being", although naturally enough the bods behind the Yahoo Mail blog couldn't pass off the opportunity to extend an invitation to Gmail users to defect over.

All in all, it looks like a smart piece of business by Yahoo If anything, we have to wonder why Google – as an increasingly apps-based search engine business itself – wouldn't want a proven software app that enhances email search and share functionality for themselves, especially at a price that is, for them at least, small change.