Nik Collection is free. I suppose we all know about Google’s move by now. For many, free is an end in itself and I have to say I cannot complain about this part. But even if it seems like it is the perfect deal, like everything else, there are advantages and disadvantages. As far as things stand right now, the advantages seem to have the upper hand:
- Immense editing power. Even if everything done with Nik software is entirely possible or can be exceeded in Lightroom and Photoshop, Nik is very elegantly organized and is very quick and easy to use. I admit that I was contemplating buying the Nik package myself for this very reason.
- It all makes sense. In the same way Lightroom is an ergonomic triumph over Photoshop with its photography focused adjustment panels and neat interface, Nik software just gets immediately in business via modules focused in b&w, color effects, film emulation, etc.
- Unsurpassed variety. If you ponder the cost of buying Lightroom presets, free Nik software is the bargain of the decade. It contains an immense amount of presets with many customized adjustments. It is mind boggling and can keep a photo editor busy for days on end.
I could go on for ever. As I edit through more photo sets, I am pretty certain that I will be even more enthusiastic. It all sounds perfect. Right? Well not exactly. Although I want to be optimistic, Google’s decision is very suspicious for the following reasons:
- Nik software was made available for free because Google wants to concentrate on photography for mobile platforms. This means anything from reduced interest for desktop OS platforms to complete abandonment – more on this following.
- Google has a pretty bad and abrupt record of discontinuation of applications it does not want to keep in its portfolio. The discontinuation of Google Reader a few years back was a major blow that forced me – and many other heavy RSS users – to seek alternatives. It feels like the Nik Collection is one of those pieces of software that Google is not very interested into.
The lesson I learned from my Google Reader experience is that Google is not interested in niche markets at all. Anything that is uninteresting to the masses of millions and billions of users is ultimately dropped. Unlike companies like Microsoft and Apple that charge for their software products but responsibly support them for many years along the line – hell, old Office products are still getting security updates! – Google uses a clever “free” front end to cover up its very profitable advertising and data analysis activities. I therefore see Gmail as a “safe” choice but I would not put my money in apps like Google Keep. I even consider Google+ a dodgy option if not used in parallel with Facebook or Twitter…
I have read many views on Google’s decision. I am personally quite happy that I am getting such great functionality on top of Lightroom and Photoshop. But it must be mentioned that Google has not offered any any updates at all in recent times -not even for paying customers! – and will most likely not do so in the future, especially now that the collection is offered for free. The possibility of Nik software becoming uncooperative with newer Adobe software versions at some point in the future is very real. Unless of course somebody steps in to buy it from Google and keep improving it.
So yes, I am lucky to enjoy Nik software for as long as it lasts. It beats any black Friday or Cyber Monday deal. But what if I had paid Google 130 euros last December to make it mine? Would I be equally flexible? I do not think so…