"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Images
September 18, 2012

Google’s Big Photographic Play

Last night I went to bed with some unsettling news. Google had aquired photographic software developer Nik Software. It certainly has been a massive year for acquisitions of niche creative software developers. I have a deep fondness for Nik Software and I’m eternally thankful to Piet Van den Eynde, a lead Nik Software tutor, for […]

Last night I went to bed with some unsettling news. Google had aquired photographic software developer Nik Software. It certainly has been a massive year for acquisitions of niche creative software developers.

I have a deep fondness for Nik Software and I’m eternally thankful to Piet Van den Eynde, a lead Nik Software tutor, for introducing me to the products while we were travelling in Ladakh, in 2010. Nowadays, almost every mobile image I post on Instagram and around 60-70% of the images I process from my dSLR go through a Nik Software product.

The Small Play And The Big Play

A lot of commentary is focussed on Snapseed, the most widely known product from Nik. Snapseed is a great app for processing images on iPhone or iPad. Gobbling up Snapseed looks a lot like a counter move to Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram. Now Google has it’s own app for mobile photographers – one which is a lot more powerful and versatile, as a processing tool, than Instagram.

However, Snapseed is built on the same technology as Nik’s highly respected plugins for Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. In fact, for a lot of photographers, including myself, Nik’s plugins, especially Dfine, HDR Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro allow us to go places creatively faster and more easily than the Adobe products themselves.

By acquiring Nik, Google have moved right into the heart of the professional photography world, taking in a fast growing and highly respected developer. Google already gave notice of their interest in the professional photographic space with this years’s Google+ Photographer’s Conference.

Perhaps this isn’t just a play against Facebook and Instagram in terms of mobile photography, but it’s also a play for the “serious” photographic scene, initially against Flickr and 500px and also, potentially, against Adobe and their cloud based initiatives as well.

The potential here is huge.

Until more information emerges, I’m cautiously optimistic. I have no great love for G+, but the service is certainly useful to photographers and the iOS app is really impressive now. And, of course, I don’t want to say goodbye to the fabulous plugins.

What about you? Do you use any Nik software (or G+) and how do you feel about this move?

Responses
Toni 10 years ago

I’d suspect this is part of the strategy to bring more users to G+ in a slightly expensive and clumsy fashion.

It seems to me that Google is very ‘Microsoft’ in its approach, hoping that by adding more tools it can make people want to join its network en masse. Facebook is very Apple in its approach to things, making the service they offer desirable for those who otherwise cannot do stuff and retaining a loyal following no matter how rough-shod they ride over them, simply because they have no-where else to go.

I think the Microsoft-Apple analogy holds up fairly well. Both dirty players, but FB raising the walls around its garden.

So I’m fairly sure this is being done to expand the kind of product Google can sell (i.e. users to advertisers) by making it a more desirable service to use.

    Fernando Gros 10 years ago

    Toni – thanks. I agree Google has a “yes we can do that too” approach. It builds respect, but I’m not sure it builds loyalty.

Toni 10 years ago

Do you think it does build respect? I’m not so sure.

The thing I didn’t say that I probably should have is that some organisations seem very good at building community and customer loyalty, even with sometimes slightly inferior products, while others almost seem to generate dislike despite being demonstrably better.

And some just get so large they lose their way.

I think google ‘get people’ in a Hari Sheldon kind of way, able to understand and manipulate on a planetary scale, but don’t understand how to make people become community. Facebook, by contrast, get this very well, but when ever they roll out an update always manage to cause deep angst and frustration within their demonstrably loyal following. It will be interesting to see if Zuckerburg is eased on and replaced with a John Sculley if the companies shares keep slipping.

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