On Friday morning, Google fired up its official Picasa blog for the first time in over four years â€” only to tell users of the photo service that it is no more.
Thatâ€™s because Google made a better photo service, Google Photos, that is tailored for mobile phones. So Google is shuttling all Picasa photosÂ and users over there, part of its effort to become the go-to platform for digital images.
â€œAfter much thought and consideration, weâ€™ve decided to retire Picasa over the coming months in order to focus entirely on a single photo service in Google Photos,â€ Anil Sabharwal, head of Google Photos, wrote in the post. â€œWe believe we can create a much better experience by focusing on one service that provides more functionality and works across mobile and desktop, rather than divide our efforts across two different products.â€
This is not surprising. Picasa, which Google acquired way back in 2004, before its IPO, has sat relatively dormant for years. It was absorbed into the maw of Google+, the beleaguered social service. Rumblings that its users were being nudged to Photos have circulated since the launch of Googleâ€™s new app in May.
Perhaps Google was waiting to see if its Photos caught on. It has. Google said the service crossed 100 million monthly users in October. Its main distinction from PicasaÂ is the advanced machine learningÂ feature that can automatically tag and organize images, somethingÂ Google likes to talk about incessantly. Photos will now pick up Picasaâ€™s users. (Google, however, will not talk about how many of those there are.)
Photos isÂ also a product built first for mobile, unlike Picasa. MobileÂ is a very big deal inside Google these days. By getting fully behind Photos, the search giantÂ is creating a single front for convincing consumers to store their photos with Google â€” an important strategy since Apple and Facebook are doing the same thing.
The move is indicative of an ongoing effort from CEO Sundar Pichai to streamline Googleâ€™s multifarious products. Google often jugglesÂ severalÂ similar services at once, for internal competitive reasons or just because it can.Â The company recently moved to consolidate its various digital music offerings as well.
Picasa users will have their photos automatically uploaded into Photos. Should they want to hang onto their images there, they can do so until May 1, when the service is fully shut. Sabharwal wrote that Google is â€œcreating a new placeâ€ for Picasa users who want to tweak photos with tags, captions or comments in ways that Photos cannot. Google is fading out the Picasa desktop application starting on March 15.