Eight months after being acquired by SmugMug, Flickr has announced current and impending changes to its free and paid accounts.
Flickr has long offered a free plan to photographers, and we remain committed to a vibrant free offering. Free accounts will now be for a member’s 1,000 best photos or videos, regardless of size.
This means, we are no longer offering a free terabyte of storage. Unfortunately, “free” services are seldom actually free for users. Users pay with their data or with their time. We would rather the arrangement be transparent.
Free members will still be able to participate fully in our community. Free members with more than 1,000 photos uploaded to Flickr will have until Tuesday, January 8, 2019, to upgrade to Pro or download photos over the 1,000 limit. After January 8, members over the limit will no longer be able to upload new photos to Flickr.
I have a grandfathered “pro” account that cost half as much when it was owned by Yahoo. It seems likely SmugMug will be terminating those accounts and requiring us to go to the higher priced offerings. Or choose to leave Flickr, which is what I am considering doing. New owner SmugMug will charge $1/week if you want to have more than 1,000 photos.
By eliminating free accounts, Flickr effectively kills off its large community of photo enthusiasts and is left with a sliver that will pay $50/year. Flickr then becomes an online cloud storage service and is no longer a community. Effectively, this is going to be the end of Flickr – it’s just going to be a big cloud file storage server.
While I’ve had about 7 million photo views (hard to know what a “view” even means on Flickr as the stats are seemingly random), I became active on Flickr long after its initial gold rush heyday and only have about 425 followers. But I do have perhaps 6,000 photos. I upload bulk, edited photos from events that each generate hundreds of photos so that participants can download the photos for their own uses.
This change by SmugMug is a big deal. Starting in February, free accounts with over 1,000 photos will have their photos deleted by SmugMug.
The “free” Internet is largely going away. You may have noticed the number of paid services, even at Youtube with Youtube Red, for example. More web sites are moving towards a model of some content provided for free with additional content provided only to paid subscribers. The large quantity of end user generated content seeking support through Patreon is already doing this too – with “watch my free videos on Youtube or see special ‘behind the scenes’ content only available to Patreon subscribers.”
These changes are a very big deal for the web. Perhaps they are necessary or perhaps they are merely greed at work.