Google to take on Instagram and Flickr with soon to be announced photo service

Company to liberate its imaging offering from the Google+ social network once more

Dan Sung
Wednesday 20 May 2015 10:46 BST
Google+ photo booth
Google+ photo booth (Getty)

Google is set to unveil a standalone, web-based photo sharing and storage service at its Google I/O developer conference later this month.

This imaging tool will enable users to post their pictures on Facebook and Twitter with greater ease than currently possible through Google’s systems, according to Bloomberg Business’s Silicon Valley insiders.

The move from Google once again separates the photos arm of its operations from the Google+ social network with which it was merged in 2013. The previous incarnation, Picasa Web Albums, was redirected under the Photos banner after struggling to keep up with the more popular Flickr site with the intended result to bolster both Google’s imaging offering and its social platform too.

Instagram with 300 million-strong user base
Instagram with 300 million-strong user base (Getty)

Now, though, it seems there’s a change of heart given that, although well-used, Google+ has failed to kick on as the company would have liked leaving its photos system stuck to a limited audience. A separate Google Photos will bring the company the freedom to take on the likes of Instagram, Snapchat and Flickr in a world where everyone has a camera in their pockets and the desire to share them by the dozen.

Of course, the real test for Google will be whether the company can make it stick. Instagram - with Facebook behind it - has the financial potential, the user base and the perfect social platform to keep most ideas at bay, along with a much-loved, simple and effective built-in image editing tool. Flickr’s heritage is its virtually untouchable enthusiast photographer community along with a solid storage promise of 1TB for all users for free. As for Snapchat, it's nailed the one-to-one image texting fun. Is there any land left to grab?

Google’s track record for succeeding with new web services is mixed to say the least. For every Gmail, Calendar or Docs; there is a Wave, Knol or Buzz, but perhaps the one strength that it might have is in pure locker space and it could quite easily offer more storage at lower prices with more convenient sharing and editing options than Flickr can manage. Whether that would be enough to draw the crowds remains to be seen but one would expect the company to have learned a few lessons in its time working with the imaging and social sectors.

The only other consideration for something novel beyond editing, sharing and storage would be a revolutionary way to take the pictures in the first place but, short of Google leveraging a system of satellites to do it all for you, it’s hard to see how that could happen.

This year’s Google I/O begins on May 28 in San Francisco. Look out for the full story at the end of the month.

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