Instagram and Picnik: The photo wars

One of the biggest pieces of news in the past few weeks was the purchase of Instagram, the photo sharing app, by Facebook who acquired the company and app for an impressive billion dollars. Something that happened beneath the radar is the closing of Google-funded Picnik, a popular web based photo-editing website.

For those who do not know, Picnik provided users with a way to upload and edit their photos online. The company was acquired by Google in 2010, but remained a separate entity until recently, when the website announced it was shutting down. The reason for this shut down was not a lack of use, but a plan by Google to move the majority of the photo editing tools to Google+. The website is up and running until April 19, at which point the website will be shut down and all photos held by it will be forever deleted.

Instagram vs. Picnik. Graphic by Laura Bramble.

The good news is the website is providing an easy way for members to recover their photos before it shuts down for good. This service is called Picnik Takeout. It is clear that Picnik is not trying to leave its users high and dry: a frequently asked questions page which has replaced the normal homepage attempts to help users by making suggestions of similar websites that provide photo-editing and embedded slide shows.

Instagram‘s purchase came as a shock to just about everyone. The amount of money used to buy the company that created the free app was staggering. While the app is extremely popular, most estimates of the companies actual worth were around 500 million — no where near the 1 billion that Facebook dropped to purchase the company and app. Instagram has a large community. Perhaps Facebook was attempting to tie it’s millions of users down even more to the social media giant, as it and Google battle it out for social networking supremacy.

It is clear that all this photo app purchasing and merging is just another sign of the growing animosity between Facebook and Google+. It looks as though photo sharing tools are going to be the battleground between these two Internet giants.

Google is clearly the underdog in this photo platform battle. Since its release Google+ has failed to draw the large numbers that Google was hoping to see, while Facebook continues to grow, though at a slowing rate. While Picnik had a large fan following, it was not nearly as large or well developed as the Instagram community. This is undoubtedly just the first of many shots to be exchanged by these two Internet giants.

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