The big news in Photography this week has been SmugMug’s acquisition of Flickr for an undisclosed amount. SmugMug’s snapping up of Flickr ends a months’ long ordeal for both Flickr employees and users as its fate was unsure following Verizon’s purchase of Yahoo last year. While Flickr may be overshadowed by today’s social sites and apps, it still boasts over 75 million registered users – here’s what they can expect.
SmugMug and Flickr Will Remain Independent For Now
SmugMug has been providing photo hosting for professional photographers since 2002 and Flickr has been giving photographers the ability to share their photos and create online communities long before social sharing was thing (2004 to be exact). Needless to say, long-time users on both sides of the acquisition have some concerns about what this means to them. Luckily, nothing will be changing for users – at least in the immediate future.
In an email to users sent earlier in the week, Flickr stressed that everything will remain status quo:
“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.”
The business model will remain the same as well; Flickr will continue to be a Freemium service and will not automatically convert into a SmugMug account. Likewise, pro-level SmugMug users shouldn’t expect a free Flickr Pro upgrade either. It’s a reassuring development as it implies that this acquisition is about more than just growing SmugMug’s user base. It also lends some weight to SmugMug CEO, Don MacAskill’s promise to “take a detailed look at the business and collect feedback from both employees and users.”
In a recent USAToday interview, MacAskill reassured both SmugMug and Flickr users promising to keep their data private.
“MacAskill says the SmugMug model works for the business and his conscience because it aligns his incentives with his customers. “We don’t mine our customers’ photos for information to sell to the highest bidder, or to turn into targeted advertising campaigns,” he said.”
It’s a departure from what we expect from other photo sharing services (looking at you Facebook/Instagram) and one that has many photographers breathing a sigh of relief. While there’s no such thing as a perfect service, SmugMug is by far one of the few that isn’t in a rush to sell their users wholesale. You can read the new Flickr terms of service here; SmugMug’s privacy statement can be found here.