Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, just made Flickr free — for three months, anyway.

The photo-sharing site is now making its unlimited Pro service, which is normally a paid subscription running $25 a year, free for three months. And all existing subscribers get an extra three months for free. The practical effect of that is that Flickr users, especially new ones turned off by Instagram’s ever-changing terms of service, and attracted by Flickr’s new iPhone app, don’t have to worry about the crazy, nearly decade-old limits on photo sharing that have crippled the service (at the moment free Flickr users are limited to seeing only the most recent 200 photos they’ve posted).

Flickr has been “frozen” and “old-fashioned” for a while now, but  this is it’s chance to make a big leap.

So from here we can see two things happening:

  • Yahoo sticks with the freemium business model, using the three-month free trial to lure a bunch of users to Flickr and convert at least some of them to Pro subscriptions, this way boosting their revenues.OR
  • Yahoo uses the three-month period to test how much it really costs to offer Flickr completely for free, and either eliminates the Pro fee altogether or substantially lifts the limits on free users after March. The result: A service which can handle the higher-resolution photos produced by the latest generation of smartphones, and which is far better designed for displaying large, gorgeous photos and sharing them all over the Web, not just on cramped phone screens.

This is going to be interesting. Could we be seeing a revival on Flickr in the near future?

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