Flickr announced plans to limit free accounts of the photo community severely in the coming months.
Specifics of the deal were not disclosed but SmugMug revealed back then that it would continue to support free accounts on the site and would not move or change photos.
The first major change after the acquisition date was announced on November 1, 2018. The press release, released by Flickr, highlights changes to Pro and Free accounts on Flickr.
Flickr Pro customers get more for the yearly subscription fee that they pay to Flickr while free customers will face serious limitations.
Flickr users don’t need a Yahoo account anymore to use Flickr from January 2019 on.
New Pro account features
Flickr Pro accounts get unlimited storage and an advertisement-free experience on the site. Pro customers will get access to the following features as of today or in the near future as well:
- Priority support (now).
- Advanced states on mobile (November).
- More partner discounts (November).
- Priority exposure in the new version of Explore (early 2019).
- Resolution upgrade to support 5k (early 2019).
- Video playtime upgrade to 10 minutes from 3 (early 2019).
Free accounts are downsized
Flickr will downsize all free accounts to a limit of 1000 photos or videos. The media can be of any size according to the press release. Free accounts won’t get 1 Terabyte of online storage for media anymore.
The change impacts existing customers on the site. Any account that is over the 1000 photo limit will have photos removed from the site that are in excess of the limit.
Free members with more than 1,000 photos or videos uploaded to Flickr have until Tuesday, January 8, 2019, to upgrade to Pro or download content over the limit. After January 8, 2019, members over the limit will no longer be able to upload new photos to Flickr.
After February 5, 2019, free accounts that contain over 1,000 photos or videos will have content actively deleted — starting from oldest to newest date uploaded — to meet the new limit.
Free users of Flick have until February 5, 2019 to make a decision. The options are:
- Upgrade to a Pro account for 30% off in the first year to get unlimited storage and other Pro benefits.
- Download excess photos or all photos before they are deleted.
- Do nothing and have Flickr delete photos automatically that exceed the limit.
The reasoning behind the change
A blog post was published on the official Flickr blog on the same day that provides an explanation for the change:
- The free 1 Terabyte offer attracted many users who were only interested in free storage and not community interaction. The tone of the site changed.
- SmugMug wants to run Flickr on subscription revenue and not rely on revenue generated by advertisement.
- Sending the wrong signal that storage and Flickr is not worth paying for.
The 1000 photo limit was decided upon after careful examination of current use scenarios on Twitter. Most Pro customers have more than 1000 photos and videos uploaded to Flickr while the vast majority of free users, 97% according to Flickr, have fewer than 1000 photos or videos stored on Flickr.
It may not be a popular opinion, but I understand Flickr’s / SmugMug’s motivation for the change. Yahoo’s business model relied on data and advertising; the more users a service had the better for advertising. SmugMug wants to shift the business model to subscriptions.
What I can’t agree with is how the situation is handled. Flickr could have made a different decision on how to proceed with the shift:
- Make the change only for new accounts on the site and not existing ones.
- Offer free users a bigger discount or even 6/12 months free to test Pro features.
The move will displease free users who exceed the 1000 photo limit, 3% according to Flickr of the entire free user population, and may also displease free users who have not hit the limit but dislike the limitation nevertheless.