Lost in the shuffle of the PR flub by Yahoo’s CEO about pro photographers, was a real discussion on the significant changes to Flickr’s pro accounts. The CEO’s comments about pro photographers skewed the conversation. But now that I’ve had time to dissect what really went on (of substance) there are things to ponder.
One thing is for sure. Flickr’s announcement is a clear message – Flickr is not going silently into the night. The overall changes revolve around three big ticket items: the site redesign, the new Android app, and the big news: the free Terabyte!
The site redesign and the Android app is Flickr playing catch up. The redesign is five years overdue and an Android app to go with their iOS offering is par for the course these days. The news that really made waves was the free terabyte. Something about terabyte got people talking – maybe people just like saying the word “terabyte”.
On Flickr’s blog they say you could take a photo every hour for the next forty years without filling a terabyte. For those who are looking for a little more context, it’s somewhere between 100,000 and a half a million high-res photos depending on size.
Who has this many photos? Some professional photographers will have that many and some sincere hobbyists who have been shooting for years.
The genius of the announcement is that it sounds absolutely wonderful. To those in the know, it’s absolute nonsense. Photographers who work with photos regularly, and who understand file size, realize that to 99.99% of people out there a terabyte is meaningless. The consumer types will never fill it, not even if they upload all the family photos their aunts, uncles, and cousins took at last year’s family picnic.
Flickr used to say they offered unlimited photos. But that is no longer sexy. And Flickr needed something to make the media sit up and take notice. Something the media could run with. Something people would stand around the water cooler discussing the next day…hence 1TB!
But what does it say about their target audience? The old target audience, (serious photographers like us) would see through this simple ploy – wouldn’t they? It’s almost as if Flickr was intentionally trying to break through to another market, a less photo-savvy market. Possibly a market that takes photos of their food and likes to upload “selfies”.
Positioning the free terabyte ahead of real value for photographers hints at Flickr’s desire to move away from being a social network for photographer’s in favor of the more lucrative social network for people who happen to have photos. Don’t be tricked into thinking those are the same thing. It makes more sense when you look at it in the context of the Tumblr buy. Flickr wants to be a social network not a photo sharing network. It’s a nifty bit of slight-of-hand, but if you’re paying for a “Pro” account at Flickr you might want to read this next part carefully.
As I mentioned in my previous post on the Flickr announcement, they obviously borrowed their design cues from Google + and 500px. But after that, they moved in different directions.
Google+ is essentially ad free. 500px is absolutely ad free. Flickr Pro is ad free and the non pro account shows ads. So let’s dig deeper into what you get for your money if you don’t want ads.
500px doesn’t mention exact storage size anywhere else on their site but the TOS. And you all know I am that guy. I read their terms of service page. A free account at 500px allows you 20 photo uploads per week for the rest of your life. Over 40 years this only amounts to around forty thousand photos.
When upgrading to 500px (Plus Acct – $25 a year or half the charge for Flickr Pro) you get “unlimited” uploads. Unlimited – there is that word Flickr so callously threw away. I think we can all agree “unlimited” is far less sexy than “a terabyte.” But it is better because – well it is unlimited. This reminds me of the book “1984″ when the bad guys would reduce the chocolate ration and then start a PR campaign telling you they raised it.
To look at it another way, on 500px $25 will get you three terabytes of storage, on Flickr this would cost you $999.98.
But again, the terabyte is almost meaningless. It’s hype. It’s a word the media can latch onto. But to guys like me, it’s just another way to make noise without making something worth talking about. When breaking it down, Flickr’s changes aren’t good for the photographers who would be regular readers of Photofocus. It’s not good for the people who were paying $25 for a “Pro” account and are now paying $50. Maybe the family that wants to store 400 vacation pics a year would dig it, but there is nothing there for pros anymore. Now on to Google+…
It’s harder to quantify how this plays out once you throw Google+ into the mix. I can’t quite figure out their approach. Their TOS uses words like “standard” size (which is smaller than full size) and unlimited, but then talks about purchasing more storage. Here is their fee structure.
From the Google Site:
“Google Drive storage plans
Choose from the following monthly Google Drive storage plans to be shared between Google Drive and G+ Photos. When you purchase one of these plans, your Gmail storage limit will automatically increase to 25 GB. Yearly plans aren’t currently available.”
It seems pretty clear that G+ is more expensive than Flickr and G+ as well as Flickr are more expensive than 500px.
In the end, the service you choose will be based on your personal taste, your budget, and you’re intended audience. I think Yahoo has just actually made Flickr less relevant by instituting these changes. Time will tell.
(P.S. I welcome someone from Google to contact me (photo firstname.lastname@example.org) and explain their plan – especially if I got it wrong. But I don’t think I did.
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