The bookend to Yahoo’s Big News Day — a major refresh of its photo sharing site Flickr — will see the company drop its Flickr Pro pricing tiers as part of a bid to compete better with Facebook/Instagram and the rest of the crowded market in the online photo space. But it is not getting rid of paid tiers altogether: it’s keeping an ad-free tier, called Ad Free, as well as a tier for power users, doublr, respectively priced at $49.99 and $499.99 for a year of use.
The Ad Free service, at $49.99, will do away with the advertising the runs along the right side of the current photo feed — and if today’s discussion of what Yahoo intends to do with ads on Tumblr is any indication, ads that may be appearing soon within your photo streams.
The doublr service (again with those dropped vowels… this had to have played some small role in warming the company to buying Tumblr), priced at $499.99, gives users 1 terabyte of extra space, on top of the 1 terabyte that they will already get free as part of a Yahoo account.
The Pro tiers — priced at $6.95 for three months, $24.95 for 12 months and $44.95 for two years — included unlimited uploads and storage, as well as no ads, and a particularly mean-spirited allowance: those who did upload pictures could download more than just a smaller version of them. (Meaning: those who didn’t pay up wouldn’t get the full copies until they did. Their originals have always been stored by Flickr.)
From what we understand from a person close to Flickr, dropping Pro isn’t going to make much difference to the company because Pro never did very well.
“It has always been a relatively small percentage of the overall user base,” our contact says, adding that while now-distant past CEO Terry Semel had made a big push on premium services, after his departure (and actually during his time) there was “virtually no investment made” in trying to develop or push the Pro tier.
Nevertheless, there are now currently Pro users wondering how exactly Yahoo will be compensating them for the rest of their annual subscriptions. Yahoo notes that as part of the changes it will be removing “pro” badges beside people’s names and people can no longer gift pro subscriptions. Strangely, in a bit of an AOL subscription move, Yahoo says it will continue to offer renewable subscriptions to pro to “Recurring Pro users.”
The Pro tier did have another role to play. Today, CEO Marissa Mayer recounted how the small-image download was what prompted her to rethink Flickr altogether. “When we looked across our services we asked, why are we doing that? That started a thought experiment,” she said. The decision was that Flickr no longer wanted to offer “degraded” images. “We keep your images and you have high resolution images everywhere which is a huge differentiator.”
But in the age of Dropbox, BitTorrent, Mega and more, there are so many places to store pictures online today: will anyone really want to pay such a premium price for that place to be Flickr and Yahoo? In any case, as one person has pointed out already, why users wouldn’t just register for two accounts rather than pay for the extra space?
In the meantime, Flickr users are taking a page from the Tumblr book of user reviews, and laying out their vitriol about the changes over here.