Two Dollars a Day! I’m Outraged!!

Read All of VISIONS

In my sporadic quest today to find real news about Flickr online I ran across some blog posts bitching about how Flickr “rips off” its customers by charging for a pro account every year. These protesters object to Flickr’s practice of limiting accounts to  only 200 displayed images when the member fails to renew her pro account. I guess the protesters’ theory is Flickr should charge only one time and allow those members who pay to post their thousands (tens of thousands?) of photos on the site in perpetuity.

I’ve been on Flickr for just under four and a half years. I’ve paid Yahoo a grand total of one hundred dollars for my membership. I have almost nine thousand images on Flickr. Let’s see……. (doing math – where’s my iphone?)…. It cost me just under seven cents a day to use 27 gigabytes of storage and to do everything else on Flickr. Of course, my monthly cost is a a whopping big $2.08. That a per photo costs of more than two hundredths of a penny!

Those Flickr assholes! What rip off!! Why, they should pay me for the privilege hosting my marvelous photos!

I guess we are all so used to getting so much free on the internet we forget internet companies have costs. My home page is the New York Times. Why they give me the Times free is beyond me. Thousands of employees work for the newspaper, they have printing costs, and countless other expenses. I avoid looking at the relatively few ads on the site as I read.

I haven’t purchased a print copy of the Times in years. I used to buy the Sunday paper religiously every week. It costs about five bucks here in the hinterlands of east Tennessee. So, by putting the Times online the paper actually lost about two hundred fifty dollars a year! To a lesser extent the same dynamics are true for Newsweek, PC Magazine, and other publications I used to fork over real money for.

S0, in case you can’t guess, I think anyone who complains about Flickr’s current cost structure is an idiot. For the cost of dinner for two at a medium priced restaurant, you get unlimited internet storage and all the rest of the site’s benefits.

What I worry about is the hold Flickr has on me. I can afford twenty-five buck a year, but what do I do if Yahoo decides they should dramatically raise their rates or reduce the number of  photos a member can have? Or, far worse, what if Yahoo  decides Flickr is not worth maintaining?

Flickr is unlikely to raise rates any time soon; it has too many competitors (Google’s Picassa just steeply cut its photo storage costs). But how long will Yahoo continue to support Flickr’s current financial structure?

A Flickr post on one of its forums six months ago claimed the service had “32+ million members”. A quick Google search doesn’t turn up anything about how many of those accounts are paid. Let’s take a wild guess 20% of those accounts produce revenue. Flickr would net in the range of $150 million per year. Is that good, bad, or what? I have no idea since I can nothing online about Flickr’s cost of operation.

The internet is the marvel of the age. As soon as anyone figures out how to make real money off of it it will become both better and worse. It will become more stable. And for me and my nine thousand photos on Flickr, at least, that’s a good thing.

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