I was a dedicated Flickr Pro. I paid annual dues since 2007, most recently at $24.95 a year, for the privilege of uploading an unlimited quantity of photos and viewing zero ads on the Yahoo!-owned photo sharing site.
My latest uploads -- over the past 12 months, anyway -- are predominantly copies of photos that began on Foursquare or Instagram. Around the time those two apps gained prominence I ceased uploading directly to Flickr.
Despite my Flickr usage waning in recent months, I continued to pay the company to be a Pro member.
With their announcement of a new design and that every Flickr user gets 1 terabyte of storage last month, I questioned my annual payment.
Do you see the above photo (which you can click to visit it on Flickr)? It is approximately 240 kilobytes.
The basic math is
1,024 kilobytes = 1 megabyte
1,024 megabytes = 1 gigabyte
1,024 gigabytes = 1 terabyte
If you assume a single magazine page stores 5,000 characters, then 220 million pages equals one terabyte.
Why was I paying for unlimited storage when I could have a terabyte of storage for free?
Investigating the new layout -- and commending Yahoo! engineers for bringing Flickr into 2013 compliance to similar layouts on Pinterest, MySpace, Tumblr, and other photo-rich sites -- the simplicity I took for granted was stolen from me.
I was not alone.
Gary Marshall elaborates:
Users are complaining about basic usability, unwanted infinite scrolling, slow loading, the removal of titles (they only appear on mouseover now), problems finding stuff, the ability for someone else's glamour shots to dominate your front page, the complete impossibility of clicking links in the front page footer... you get the idea.
Most of it sounds like the sort of teething problems you encounter when a free service undergoes a radical revamp -- but for its most loyal users, Flickr isn't a free service. It's something they pay for, and have done for a long time.
Jennifer Van Grove used to pay Flickr but she pulled back some time ago. She wonders if even a terabyte of data is enough to sway away folks who upload photos to Facebook where there are no storage limitations.
Yahoo's real pitch seems to be one of practicality. Upload to Flickr. Store forever. And you can still share to Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr in the process, even when you're on an iPhone or Android. But who actually thinks like that? Certainly not Instagram users who have gravitated to the app because of its speed and simplicity. And where's the fun here? At least Google+ launched a photo experience with funky photo extras.
Flickr's approach is more mature. It's for the grownups out there. It's not sexy enough to motivate most people, youngsters in particular, to change their behaviors -- or their preferred photo-sharing network.
My mind was made up.
I logged into my Flickr account.
I looked at the differences.
I was freed.
I am happy to be free but our six-year relationship is now bittersweet.
Gary says it best:
[E]ither Yahoo has completely lost its mind or Flickr doesn't want the pros any more.
The smart money's on the latter. Pros may have made Flickr what it is - and kept it alive during Yahoo's long years of neglect -- but they're not a great demographic for ads, and that's what Flickr is chasing now. Flickr used to beg photographers to go Pro. Now, it seems, it wants the pros to go.
P.S. Here's a great resource to learn and read more about the Flickr changes.