Over the course of 2009 Google announced a number of innovations to their image search capabilities. This improved the experience for users and is bringing Google image search closer to commercial search engines. Today Google has made another investment to their image capabilities with the acquisition of the image editing software Picnic. As opposed to desktop based imaging software, Picnic is an online application. It has seen significant growth and now gets millions of hits every month. This is what the Google blog said about the acquisition:
More than ever before, people are sharing and storing their photos online. But until recently, you had to edit your photos using client software on your computer. Today, we’re excited to announce that Google has acquired Picnik, one of the first sites to bring photo editing to the cloud. Using Picnik, you can crop, do touch-ups and add cool effects to your photos, all without leaving your web browser.
Google is not planning to make any immediate changes so for now it will be business as usual. Picnic was launched in 2005 and has grown to 20 employees since then. The company describes itself as having a great community and a fun culture that sees the acquisition as a way to reach a much wider audience.
The question is how Google plans to serve image buyers over the coming months and years. It seems clear that the company is making a concerted effort to improve their image- and imaging capabilities but a clear strategy has not been communicated yet. For image buyers there are some clear wins if Google brings image search to a level that is suitable for professional clients. This should include possibilities to connect to creators and license images. This may mean further acquisitions. While these improvements are good news for image buyers, commercial stock photography agencies will need to keep a close eye on these developments to avoid falling behind on search and possibly being sidetracked by Google.