Google is shutting down Picnik, the popular online photo editing service that it acquired nearly two years ago. The closure comes as part of a larger strategy by the search giant to focus on core products.
In a blog post, Google also said that it is merging, open-sourcing or phasing out several other products. Those on the list include the data management platform Needlebase; Web analytics service Urchin Software; the Social Graph API; Google Sky Map; and Google Message Continuity.
“Resolutions can be hard, and changing products that people love is hard too,” said Dave Girouard, vice president of product management, in the post. “But we’re excited to focus on creating a beautifully simple, intuitive user experience across Google—an experience that will change the lives of millions of people.”
During Google’s earnings call Thursday, CEO Larry Page said that the company was doubling down on Android, YouTube, Gmail, Google + and other products central to its business.
“There’s so many opportunities for Google today, but to make a real impact in the world we need to make hard choices about where to focus our efforts,” said Page. Later in the call, he added that Google was concentrating efforts on products “that we really care about and that really matter to the world.”
With today’s announcement, Picnik is now slated to be shut down on April 19th. The Web-based service, which was free to use and included a $25 annual premium service, allowed users to crop, resize, touch-up and add special effects to photos.
“We’re retiring the service on April 19, 2012 so the Picnik team can continue creating photo-editing magic across Google products,” Google wrote. “You can download a zip file of your creations through Picnik Takeout or copy them to Google+. As of now, the premium service is free to everyone. Premium members will receive a full refund in the coming weeks.” More on the closure in the Picnik blog post, which notes that the team will now get to focus on “even awesomer things.”
Picnik was founded in Seattle in 2005 by Mike Harrington, Darrin Massena and Jonathan Sposato. [Editor's note: Sposato is an investor in GeekWire.]
Picnik quickly grew into one of the biggest photo editing sites on the Web despite competition from the likes of photo-editing giant Adobe. At the time of the acquisition, Picnik was profitable and attracting about 17 million monthly visitors.
“Google processes petabytes of data every day, and with their worldwide infrastructure and world-class team, it is truly the best home we could have found,” the Picnik team wrote in a blog post announcing the acquisition. “Under the Google roof we’ll reach more people than ever before, impacting more lives and making more photos more awesome.”
Harrington and Massena left Google last year, and Sposato continues to work out of the company’s Seattle office.
During a talk at the Seattle 2.0 Awards two months after the acquisition, Sposato explained why the company met with success despite competition from big players and a market that he said didn’t really need another photo editing service.
“Picnik was successful because the product was really, really well engineered and well built,” said Sposato at the time, adding that there was also lot of luck involved in the company’s success.
We’ve reached out to Sposato and Google, and we’ll update the post when we hear more.
UPDATE: A Google spokeswoman referred us to the Google and Picnik blog posts, and Sposato declined to comment.
Previously on GeekWire: Flickr cleans house, plans to ditch Picnik and other features