On Flickr

A few weeks ago I lamented on Twitter:

Remember back in April when Smugmug acquired Flickr? Good times they were. Six months on, Flickr still tied to Yahoo's auth platform and no real mention of anything new feature wise. Slow and steady wins the race?

This week we finally got some news. One of the announcements, a change to free accounts, has had a mixed reaction online. But I don't think the change is a bad thing.

When I joined Flickr in 2004 free accounts were only allowed 100 photos, if you wanted more you paid a yearly fee for that. Clearly 100 wasn't enough for me and I've been a paid user for well over a decade. In 2013 Flickr announced a whopping 1TB of storage for free accounts. Which sounded wonderful at first. But in reality it meant a few things. (1) Yahoo were clearly interested in ads and data mining for revenue. (2) Yahoo were spending a lot of money on infrastructure (3) Folks started using Flickr as a dumping ground for all the shots from their SD card.

Fast forward to 2018 and Smugmug's announcement of (a) return to free account limits (b) a focus on paid accounts and sustainable revenue model. As I understand it, of the 100M Flickr users, 3% of those with a free account have more than 1000 photos. Those folks will be encouraged to upgrade. Seems worth it to me? Paying less than $5 a month for unlimited high res photos is a bargain.

So I'm encouraged and excited for the future of Flickr. A sustainable business model, no ads for me or anyone browsing my page, no algorithmic timeline, no creepy data mining behind the scenes. What's not to love?

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