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Flickr's new $499.99 per year 'Doublr' service explained

Flickr is selling a new photo plan that costs as much as an iPad. Here's what it does and who it's aimed at.

Yahoo pitching its new photo upgrades to Flickr on Monday in New York.
Yahoo pitching its new photo upgrades to Flickr on Monday in New York.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Yahoo on Monday increased the amount of storage Flickr users get by 70-fold, and at the same time quietly introduced a new pro tier that costs users 20 times as much as the one it replaces.

That plan, dubbed the "Doublr," bumps the 1 terabyte of photo and video storage up to 2 terabytes, and costs $499.99 per year. By Yahoo's calculations, that takes the theoretical limit from 537,731 photos, up to just over 1.07 million full-quality shots. This top of the line program joins a $49.99 per year plan that gets rid of ads (and replaces the old $24.95 a year Pro plan).

Yahoo says the Doublr is for a very tiny percentage of users who manage to go over the new size limit, which it touts as the highest limit of any online photo host. Users also get some security in that the data is housed on Yahoo's data centers, and not a third-party.

While $499.99 may seem obscenely high, it's actually cheaper than if you were to try to get a comparable amount of storage through Google's Picasa or Google+, which share the same photo storage. A 2TB plan from Google costs $99.99 a month, tallying up a nearly $1,200 a year bill.

The one big difference in this case is how Google handles those photos. Users on Google's system get "unlimited" free storage of photos that have been automatically resized to 2048 pixels wide. For something like a snapshot of friends that may be just fine. Yahoo -- on the other hand -- is angling people towards quality, and showing photos as big as possible, even on screens that might not exist yet.

Facebook too must be mentioned for how it handles storage, and because it's the world's largest photo host. Users can upload an "unlimited" amount of shots, which includes high-resolution photos. These can also be re-downloaded from any photo page.

When putting the cost in perspective with some other "portfolio" style photography hosts, however, Flickr's Doublr plan is on the high end of the spectrum. Smugmug, a popular photo host for pro photographers, charges $20 a month for its pro plan. Users get unlimited uploads, though are limited by size to 50MB per photo and 3GB per video. Similarly, Zenfolio ranges from $30 to $250 a year for its pro plans, though the most comparable plan is the $120 per year plan, which has unlimited uploads and more lax restrictions on file sizes. Last but not least, there are 500px and Pictage, which respectively have a $25 a year and $29 a month unlimited plan for serious photographers.

So what to make of all this? Flickr's made no false pretenses of who these plans are for: They're for professionals, who plan to upload giant photos and increasingly large videos to the service.

With that said, what might make for the most interesting tidbit behind Monday's news is the new $49.99 ad-free plan. At about twice the price of the plan that did the very same thing (and quite a bit more), that's Flickr's real tough sell.

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