NOTE: This is an old blog post. I was obviously very wrong about some of my thoughts in it, as it looks like Nik is officially dead according to the Google/Nik website and the message (at the very top in orange) that they have no plans of updating the plug-ins again. (Link)
If you haven’t heard the news, Google announced yesterday that it acquired Nik Software. Now, most of you reading this probably know Nik Software for it’s Photoshop and Lightroom plug-ins. And of course, I’m sure you’ve probably heard of Nik’s Snapseed (which won the App of the Year for 2011). But my guess is, you still know and like them just as much (if not more) for their Photoshop/Lightroom plug-ins.
Well, most of the websites I’ve been reading about this acquisition on, are writing about how Google really wants Snapseed. They’re reporting that Nik Software says Snapseed is used by 9 million people. So of course that’s the product that’s making all the news. Now…I personally don’t know the numbers so I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure Silver Efex Pro or Color Efex Pro don’t have 9 million users 🙂 The plug-ins are really geared for the “pro” (or the pro-ish person) right? (yes, that’s you – even if you’re not a professional photographer making money at it every day, you’re still considered a pro, to most casual iPhone shooters out there). That’s usually a much smaller audience, so the plug-ins haven’t been talked about as much since the announcement. Anyway, figuring most of you either use, have used, or are thinking of using their plug-ins, I figured I’d write 5 quick random thoughts on the whole topic.
- 1. I tend to agree with the masses that a big part of this acquisition had to do with Snapseed. I’ve seen a lot of people afraid that their favorite plug-ins will now fall by the wayside. But here’s the thing… Nik Software wasn’t just about Snapseed. They have a long history and many years of great plug-ins, so I have a hard time thinking that Google is just going to throw Snapseed into Google+ and call it quits on everything else. I mean, why not just buy Snapseed from Nik if that was the case?
- 2. Going on the previous point, Google is into photography. Many of the high-level people in their photo departments really like shooting. So, again, I have a hard time thinking they’ll just abandon all of the great software that Nik has created over the years. (Update: Looks like I was wrong)
- 3. In the short term, I don’t think anything changes. Your Nik plug-ins will continue to work as the same plug-ins that you purchased when you were happy to purchase them. Nik isn’t known for updating their plug-ins every year. So most of them are fairly new in their life cycle, and I’m not sure we would have seen any huge updates in the near-term anyway. I do think that unless Google or Nik come out and say something about what the future holds, it’ll definitely hurt future sales. When I was at Photoshop World the other week, I had a ton of people ask me if they should buy Nik’s Silver Efex Pro or onOne Software’s new Perfect Black and White plug-in. In the short term, with no clue how the software will be supported in the future (even though lots of people think it will still be supported just fine), this acquisition makes their decision pretty easy.
- 4. I’d love to hear Adobe’s thoughts on all this. Were Nik’s plug-ins going to ever overtake Photoshop and/or Lightroom as the king of editing apps for photographers? They seemed to be creating products that worked “with” Photoshop and Lightroom, rather than in place of them. But Google on the other hand… this could get interesting. Could this eventually turn in to a competitor to Photoshop or Lightroom? (Update: Ummmm… no)
- 5. I’ll finish with this thought. On the home page of Nik Software it reads “On Sept. 17 2012, Nik Software Joins Google”. All I can say is this. That strikes me as a company that’s happy about it’s move. I personally know a number of people at Nik Software. They’re passionate photographers and very committed to their software. I could totally be wrong here, but the message on their home page and the level at which I’ve seen the folks at Nik operate make me think this could be a good thing. Personally, I’m excited to see where it goes.
Question: What’s your thoughts on the acquisition? Good? Bad? Or you just don’t care?