Flickr’s Terabyte of Free Storage a Game-Changer

Ed Lee and Alan Bullock
May 23, 2013

On May 20, Yahoo announced a major redesign of its Flickr photo sharing service. One of the new features is that the storage limit has been raised to one terabyte (TB) for all users, and it’s free! Virtually anyone can now upload their entire library of full-resolution photos to Flickr without fear of running out of space or having to pay additional storage fees. (Most cloud storage services offer a mere 2GB-15GB of free space.)

How many photos does a terabyte hold? According to a calculator on Flickr’s home page, it’s about 699,050 5 megapixel photos (most smartphones), or 218,453 16 MP photos (many high-end point & shoot or DSLR cameras). Your mileage may vary based on a number of factors including image compression. Now that’s a lot of photos – even for someone like me, with over 100,000 photos in my collection! (I’m a bit of an outlier though; InfoTrends’ 2013 Personal Photo Activity Forecast estimates that the average consumer has around 3,000 unique photos in his/her collection.) Flickr also supports video, and the limit for each uploaded clip has been increased from 90 seconds to 3 minutes, or 1 GB at 1080p resolution. Any combination of still photos and videos is allowed, up to the 1 TB maximum.

The fact that there is now a free photo service that can be everyone’s cloud backup service is liberating. The adage, “shoot and save all the photos you want, storage is cheap” (or in this case “free”) rises to the forefront again. Consumers should consider cloud storage of their entire photo and video collection as part of their preservation plans, especially in light of recent tragic events such as the tornados in Oklahoma.

If current and new users take full advantage of the free storage, Flickr stands to become the holder of the largest repository of high-resolution photos in the world. It would be in a position to build service and business alliances based on its ability to provide access to those images (with the user’s permission, of course) for a variety of purposes. One example would be partnerships with manufacturers of custom photo products such as photo books. Users could design a photo book using low-resolution copies of their images, perhaps on a mobile device or even offline, and Flickr would pass the final order to the print provider along with the high-res images. The user would avoid having to choose which photos are to be included and wait for them to upload in high resolution before beginning the design process, the output vendor would save on storage space by not retaining a collection of high-res photos, and Flickr could earn a portion of the transaction revenue for its role in the process.

For this to become reality, Yahoo will need to heavily promote the redesigned Flickr service and its new features. New members who upload their entire photo libraries to Flickr will be key to its success. Of course, storage really isn’t free, and so Flickr will need to provide compelling reasons for members to come back to the site frequently enough to support advertising (or $49.99/year ad-free subscriptions) and/or pursue revenue-generating partnerships with output and service providers as described above. For now, though, it’s a daring move to inject new life into an online photo brand that many believe was headed toward irrelevance.

InfoTrends’ Connected Imaging Trends vendor advisory service covers devices, services, and technologies that enable consumers to view, share, store, and protect their growing collections of personal photo and video files, virtually any time and anywhere. For more information, please contact Matt O’Keefe at +1-781-616-2115 or matt.okeefe@infotrends.com.

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