Google Acquires Nik Software; I Fear for Pros

Today both Google and Nik Software announced that Google has acquired Nik.

[Google logo]Damn.

This is an interesting play. Serious photographers know Nik best as the producer of plugins for serious post-processing in Photoshop, Lightroom, and Aperture1. I’m a big fan of their products; Silver Efex Pro is my go-to black and white solution and their HDR Efex Pro software is used extensively by prolific photographers such as RC Concepcion.

More casual photographers may know Nik as the producer of Snapseed, a very popular (and very nice) photo editing application for the iPhone and iPad. Snapseed was Apple’s iPad app of the year for 2011 and it’s been widely regarded as one of the best overall photo processing apps for the mobile platform.

I suspect Google is interested in Snapseed, as it would be a great addition to their mobile platform as a photo function of Google+.

I’m concerned this is the beginning of the end for the pro products like Silver Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, and HDR Efex Pro. Looking at Google’s history of acquisitions, it’s a very rare case for that company’s product to live on and to prosper. Most software companies acquired by Google either are killed outright (the lastest high-profile example is popular Mac and iOS mail client Sparrow) or allowed to whither and die a slow death without further new features. While I’d like to think that the pro products will live on, I’m skeptical.

I think mobile users just won and advanced photo editors just lost. What do you think? Is there a win-win scenario here?


  1. In the interest of disclosure: I’m an affiliate for Nik Software – folks can save 15% on Nik Software using my Nik Software link and I receive a small commission. 

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Aaron Hockley is a photographer with tech background; he frequently mixes these things together and shares the results. He works as a photographer in Vancouver, Washington and frequently writes and speaks about current photography topics. Follow Aaron on Twitter: @ahockley or send him an email.
  • frankwick

    Well this bites. Niks makes EXCELLENT software and Google software is continually in beta. Outside of search, Google is absolutely my least respected major software company. Look at their history of software. Google desktop is dead. Google wave is dead (but no one really even knew what it was). Google + should be dead but they spent way too much money to pull the plug. Gmail is popular but it is a mess with a horrid UI. Picasa was an aquisition and it has been stagnant ever since. If they bought Nik’s just for Snapseed then I a fear for the longevity and creativity of their other products.

  • Joe Wilson

    I saw that. I don’t know what I think about it. My first reaction was sadness. Hopefully that changes.