SmugMug acquires Flickr: What you need to know


SmugMug and Flickr, two major photo-services on social media, have recently joined together. Fans and users of each channel have grown concerned about the possible impact of this.

Will SmugMug's acquisition of Flickr see the latter cease to exist? Will there be an entirely new platform that utilises the best of both? Will we get FlickrMug or Smuckr?

…let’s take a look!

What is SmugMug?

SmugMug (founded in 2002) is an independent photo management platform for amateurs and professionals alike to share and sell photos. It provides users with a secure platform for photo storage, easy sharing and e-commerce capabilities. The SmugMug community, as a whole, are renowned for actively encouraging and empowering each other to learn, share, and inspire (putting the social in social media).

What perhaps makes SmugMug stand out a little, as a social media platform, is it’s subscription only approach. Services start at $5.99/month, rising to $30/month for premium accounts. This in turns helps the business turn a very healthy profit and users enjoy zero ads and little to no outside investors plying their trades.

What is Flickr?

Flickr (founded in 2004) is likewise an online photo management and sharing platform. The first version was more of a chat room tool (called FlickrLive) that focussed on photo sharing capabilities.

It was later bought by Yahoo! in 2005 as a replacement to Yahoo! Photos (a struggling platform that later closed for good in 2007). Yahoo!, in turn, was acquired by Verizon and coupled with with AOL to create a new subsidiary called Oath.

Flickr itself declares that it has two core goals as a social media platform:

  1. “We want to help people make their photos available to the people who matter to them”

  2. “We want to enable new ways of organising photos and video”

What are the differences between SmugMug and Flickr?

Both SmugMug and Flickr offer similar platforms, where users can buy and sell photos. But what sets them apart from one another?

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There are pro and cons for both. The key to knowing which to choose comes down to knowing your requirements for a photo storage platform. If you are looking for a free service that allows you to upload, manage and share photography (and videos) then Flickr is perfect.

If you are looking for a more communal service, no hassle from adverts or customisable features (where you can customise your online profile with styles, colours, fonts etc.) then SmugMug is great - you will just need to pay for this.

Together, SmugMug + Flickr

SmugMug has acquired Flickr. We couldn’t be more excited to unite two brands that share the same mission, passions, and values.
— SmugMug press release

On April 20th 2018, SmugMug officially released a press statement to say it has purchased Flickr, with the outright hope to “revitalise” it.

What’s going to happen to Flickr?

Perhaps with some ambiguity, SmugMug’s CEO has sworn an oath to all Flickr users that they will remain separate platforms.

It sounds silly for the CEO to not to totally know what he’s going to do, but we haven’t built SmugMug on a master plan either. We try to listen to our customers and when enough of them ask for something that’s important to them or to the community, we go and build it.
— Dan MacAskill, CEO of SmugMug

With a little more clarity, Dan MacAskill went on to confirm that Flickr would (for now) remain a standalone platform and be given the time and attention it deserves to make it a great platform once again.

The first series of “changes” (if we can call them that) will be to migrate Flickr over to SmugMug’s tech infrastructure; offering more in terms storage and security capability. It has been promised that Flickr users will still retain their Flickr account and URL, and use the platform in exactly the same way.

We for one are excited about this new acquisition. It highlights a certainty that there is still a very valid place for Flickr in today’s expansive, highly fluid social landscape. For all school users on Flickr, continue to use it as an amazing platform to store and share your #SchoolStories.

We will update this article with more information as it becomes available.