Yahoo overhauls Flickr with one free terabyte for every user

After snapping up hipster blogging platform Tumblr on Monday, Yahoo summoned the tech press to a New York media briefing. But explaining why it dropped a cool $1.1 billion on Tumblr was so 15 minutes ago, Yahoo apparently decided. Instead, it used the event to focus on updates to Flickr, the tech giant’s Web-based photo hosting service.

The big news with Flickr was quite literally about size—users of the photo-sharing service will now get one terabyte of storage for free. Flickr’s website also got an overhaul, and there’s a new version of its Android app as well.

Still, when you spend $1 billion on a blogging site, that’s bound to get people talking, so part of Monday’s news conference did feature some Tumblr talk.

A new home, but not for Tumblr

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer began the press conference by introducing Mayor Michael Bloomberg who came on stage to announce that Yahoo would be consolidating its New York operations into a new office in Times Square. Yahoo just signed a lease for the former New York Times building (for which Times Square is named) located on 43rd Street. The offices will house all of Yahoo’s 500 NYC employees and will have room to expand.

As Tumblr founder David Karp (left) watches, Yahoo executives vow to ‘make Flickr awesome again.’

Tumblr founder David Karp attended Monday’s press conference, too, but neither he nor any of Tumblr’s employees will be joining the rest of NYC’s Yahoos; they’ll remain in their current downtown Manhattan offices. As she had stated throughout the day, Mayer reiterated Yahoo’s plans to keep Tumblr independent and keep its “unique vision” in place.

“We have an all new management team [at Yahoo] who has learned from history,” Mayer said of the day-old $1 billion acquisition. “Looking at the history of successful acquisitions, a theme emerges that it is better to allow products to operate independently.”

How much truth there is in this promise of an independent Tumblr remains to be seen. However, skeptical Tumblr users may take heed in the fact that there will at least be a geographical barrier between the two companies.

Remember Flickr?

While everyone was still buzzing about Yahoo’s big buy, Flick got most of the attention Monday night. Specifically, Mayer spoke about how the company took on the task of “making Flickr awesome again.” The first part of this re-awesoming was a redesigned Flickr for the Web.

The most noticeable change from the design team led by Flickr product head Markus Spiering and senior vice president of mobile and emerging products Adam Cahan is the banishing of the old Web 1.0 design full of vacuous white space. The new look Flickr provides a far more photocentric experience that offers full-screen, full-resolution images that you can download or share onto any platform. Mayer spoke of the company’s “partner-centric philosophy” that will make Flickr images available for any user on any screen and on any social network.

Another big change: A Facebook-like design on Flickr profile pages, which now offer a full-screen image at the head and a smaller profile pic off to the side. The new-look Web incarnation of Flickr is now live, as is a revamped app for Android .

The most impressive announcement to come out of the event, however, was the promise of 1TB of free storage for every Flickr user. (For the record, that’s 1024 gigabytes). According to Mayer, the amount of potential data on the new Flickr—1TB of storage for each of the site’s current 89 million customers—is ten times more data than all the photos that have ever been taken in the history of the world.

According to Mayer (and owing to the company’s new concentration on nimbleness), the massive storage undertaking started as a dare to her staff at the end of March, and it was one they were able to fulfill before the end of the quarter.

The new free TB system will do away with the previous Flickr Pro accounts as everyone—not just pro users—has big image data needs. (Flickr Pro users who renew will get unlimited storage and an ad-free experience, but no new Pro accounts are available.) The new Flickr will allow everyone to basically put all their photos for the rest of their lives up on the site.

Most users will never ever come close to using a terabyte of photo storage. However, if Mayer and company were looking to make a splash with their big crazy pants number, mission accomplished.

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