10 January 2019

End of life for free Flickr users

As of this week, the deadline for Flickr free users to upgrade to Pro has passed. As announced a couple of months ago, beginning with February the company will start deleting photos to keep free accounts under their arbitrary limit of 1000. In the meantime I have downloaded the few albums for which I didn’t have any local copies, mostly pics from the old days of Yahoo! Photos, and deleted a couple of albums containing hundreds of photos - and in the process ventured into forgotten areas of the Flickr interface that haven’t been updated for years. It’s beyond me how people imagine SmugMug will be able to modernize all this legacy code and make Flickr competitive again. At this point it would probably be easier to just start over.

Flickr free users delete notice on site

I haven’t been following the company closely, but a couple of things stood out lately, giving small hints about their real intentions and future plans, at least in my opinion.

Exhibit A: every year, Flickr hosts a contest for Your Best Shot of the Year, and 2018 wasn’t an exception. But this time around the prizes were different, including a subscription to SmugMug Pro. That’s right: you participate in a Flickr competition, but the prize doesn’t involve Flickr at all! It’s like getting an award on Instagram, with the prize being an ad-free Facebook for the next year – who cares you may not be using Facebook at all! In my book, this is a thinly veiled attempt to encourage Flickr users to switch to SmugMug, eventually to merge the two under the SmugMug brand – something the original announcement specifically said they won’t do.

Exhibit B: since I’ve let my Pro subscription expire, I’ve received a couple of mails encouraging me to renew it. The latest in the series promotes Flickr Pro as a small price for safe photos storage, again contradicting earlier statements that the site should mainly be a standalone community of amateur and professional photographers, not a place for people to backup their photos and forget about them.

Flickr cost matters newsletter

The price comparison is misleading as well: Google Photos’ free tier offers unlimited storage for photos up to 16 megapixels, so more than enough to backup original quality files from current smartphones. Professional photographers who pay for Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription have online storage included and can backup and sync original RAW files and edits to multiple devices, while Flickr doesn’t handle RAW files at all. With each change, the value of Flickr gets smaller and smaller compared to rival services, and I suspect the majority of users will start realizing this sooner or later. Personally, I never put photos in the original camera resolution on Flickr, instead I used to export 8MP jpeg copies to upload on the site, so I would be well within Google Photos’ limit and qualify for unlimited free storage.

Post a Comment