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September 22, 2012

Google + Nik Software = Death of Rich Client Photo Editing

OK, so Google bought Nik Software a few days ago. This goes inline with the reported unhappy marriage and factual divorce between Nikon and Nik I mentioned back in March 2012.

What will now this acquisition by an advertising-driven web search portal with adjoining social and business tools of a photo imaging/editing application vendor like Nik Software mean?

1. Googles image capturing and editing offering will expand with mobile access
2. Google will enrich their portfolio of online editing tools and increase functionality
3. Nik Software portfolio will cease to exist over time

The third point is interesting for anyone who has been betting on the Nikon software Nikon Capture (NX et al), a software that is the intellectual property of Nikon and was developed by Nik.

Specifically, will Nikon have the interest, ambition, budget and skills to place the existing software codebase as a start for a new outsourcer that will develop it further according to their needs?

Vic Gundotra, Senior VP of Engineering at Google stated that they are inclined to keep the suite of pro tools and plugins for image editing as provided in the past by Nik. That sounds first pretty cool for photographers. But, we must understand that Google does not care about photographers with DSLRs any more they would care about anyone without direct online access to Googles services. They care just as much about a photographer using a Nikon D700 as they care about someone who is offline in deep Africa on a bicycle.

They want traffic, the online audience. Just like Imperium Z they feast and consume online souls. A photographer who is not online with his stuff is of no interest. Small devices staying online connecting to their services day and night. Small, personalized devices with advertising shown in various known and also still unknown ways, that is interesting for the search folks, making the billion dollars ad wheel spin and the servers heat up.

Where does advanced offline editing tools fit in here, the Nikon Captures of this world? Well, sure, they can and will connect to online services like those of the search folks. They will connect to all kinds of cloud services in the future. But, it is not a focus of Big G. And, anyways, Nikon Capture was never a part of the assets Big G acquired.

So, back to the Nikon question: Is Nikon going to get a new release out the door of Capture NX anytime soon? It does not seem to be a priority of Nikon though, with e.g. websites not updated on this since 2009. My personal take on this is, we have less than 50% chance of anything happening from Nikon to seriously improve NX. Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture is doing what most of us need already.

Posted by bgs at September 22, 2012 2:11 PM