SmugMug Buys Flickr -- leaving free account holders in the dark?

; Date: Sat Apr 21 2018

Tags: Yahoo »»»» Flickr »»»» SmugMug »»»» Online Photography

For years Yahoo's acquisition spree built them an impressive portfolio of websites, that may have sunk Yahoo's financial stability. Now that Yahoo has been acquired, some of its properties may be up for sale, and today SmugMug sent notification to Flickr account holders they'd purchased Flickr. For some Flickr account holders this will be good news since it appears SmugMug has some top-notch photography archiving and sales tools. But, what about the Flickr account holders who don't want to pay a monthly fee? While the announcement implies that, initially, the Flickr account tiers will remain the same, what will happen over the long term?

If I were seriously interested in selling pictures I'd take a look at SmugMug -- according to their website, they've set up all the right tools for presenting photo galleries and enabling the sale of pictures to customers. However the least cost account at SmugMug is almost $4 per month which I think is pricey for an regular person who just wants to store family pictures and share them with friends.

I'm not against paying a fee for a worthwhile service. As I keep reminding myself about Facebook et al, if you're not paying for the service then you are the product. In other words, what's the hidden cost of a free service? And why not just pay something to the service to make it a cleaner relationship? But - what's it worth to keep an online picture archive? This minimum price at SmugMug seems high to me.

However a close read of the announcement and FAQ implies that Flickr will remain being Flickr, and all they're changing is the terms of service.

The Flickr/SmugMug announcement

But - wait - lets back up and start from the beginning. This is the announcement from Flickr.

We’re excited to announce that Flickr has agreed to be acquired by SmugMug, the photography platform dedicated to visual storytellers.

SmugMug has a long history of empowering people who love photography and who want to improve their craft, making them a perfect fit for Flickr and our creative community. With SmugMug, we’ll continue to focus on you, the Flickr members who inspire us all with your work.

Nothing will change immediately with regard to your Flickr account. You will still access Flickr with your current login credentials and you will have the same Flickr experience as you do now. We will continue to work to make your Flickr experience even better.

We think you are going to love Flickr under SmugMug ownership, but you can choose to not have your Flickr account and data transferred to SmugMug until May 25, 2018. If you want to keep your Flickr account and data from being transferred, you must go to your Flickr account to download the photos and videos you want to keep, then delete your account from your Account Settings by May 25, 2018.

If you do not delete your account by May 25, 2018, your Flickr account and data will transfer to SmugMug and will be governed by SmugMug’s Terms and Privacy Policy.

Read more detailed FAQs about this transition on the Flickr Blog.

We’re happy that Flickr is your home for photography and we look forward to the next chapter in our adventure together as we join the SmugMug family.

Thanks, The Flickr Team

Notice, no mention of Yahoo. The main point is that Flickr is making this sound like an extremely positive move. And I'm sure it is a positive move.

Q&A about Flickr/SmugMug merger


Flickr account holders have until May 25 to do something with their Flickr account. If they do nothing, the account will transfer to SmugMug and presumably start incurring a monthly fee.

Or maybe not. The FAQ says this:

Will anything happen to my photos or will they be moved? You’ll still be able to access your photos as you do currently and they’ll retain the same ( URL as always.


What are SmugMug’s plans for Flickr? Will the products be merged? SmugMug loves Flickr and they want us to keep on being Flickr. There is no plan to merge the products. As we spend more time with the SmugMug team, we hope to find ways to coordinate our development work and provide two great destinations dedicated to visual storytellers and creatives.

This appears to mean that Flickr account holders will still access their accounts via (, the pictures will still be at URL's and so on. All they talk about is changing the terms of service to ones that have SmugMug's name on them.

Initially account holders will still use Yahoo's login infrastructure, but in the due course of time a new login mechanism will be established.

The terms of service does say the agreement can be changed at any time - presumably meaning that SmugMug foresee's a future time when they may drastically change Flickr.

They promise to first spend time "listening to the community" meaning SmugMug is smart enough to recognize their user base is an important stakeholder in the business. This is a good sign.

About the Author(s)

( David Herron : David Herron is a writer and software engineer focusing on the wise use of technology. He is especially interested in clean energy technologies like solar power, wind power, and electric cars. David worked for nearly 30 years in Silicon Valley on software ranging from electronic mail systems, to video streaming, to the Java programming language, and has published several books on Node.js programming and electric vehicles.