Picnik was a quirky little online photo editing service that was purchased by Google. Unfortunately, it's been slated for the Google Graveyard. On April 19, 2012, Picnik officially packs all its baskets and gingham closes its doors.
Picnik's original business model was a "freemium" service, meaning that you could use the service for free or purchase an upgraded Anyone with a paid Picnik account gets their money back, whether it was just plunked down or belonged to an account that was expiring in two days. Everyone else gets to enjoy all the premium features for free for the few months of Picnik left.
Why Closing Picnik Is Bad News
Picnik's features will undoubtedly be moving on to other products, with a focus on Google+. You can already use Google+ to edit photos using Creative Kit. It has a suspiciously Picnik-like interface, including the same sort of seasonal stickers that Picnik users use and love.
However, one of the things that made Picnik so fun was the ability to import and edit photos from a variety of other photo hosting services, like Flickr and Photobucket. Not only could you import photos, you could save them back to other services when you were done. If Picnik is absorbed entirely into Google+ or Picasa, it's unclear what if any cross-posting abilities the tool would retain.
Why Closing Picnik Is Good News
Rather than focusing on an unbranded service, Google can leverage the skills of the team to enhance projects already hosted under the Google umbrella. Not only do Google+ users get better photo editing tools with Creative Kit, the same photo editing technologies will undoubtedly translate to better template editing in Blogger, and of course, better photo editing in Picasa. It may even enhance online video editing in YouTube.
And let's face it, the name Picnik is really bad. It's common practice for Web start-ups to misspell their name. Usually it's because they can't get a URL with a common name anymore. Sometimes it works out as something memorable and quirky, like Flickr, and sometimes it ends up being something that just looks misspelled, like Picnik or fflick.
Over the years, Google has been more likely to re-brand or dissolve products with odd names than it is to keep the old name. There are exceptions. Google kept Blogger, Picasa, Android, and YouTube. They dissolved, dismantled, or re-branded countless other acquisitions. Examples include Dodgeball, Jotspot, Writely, Sprinks, GrandCentral, Keyhole, Upstartle, Slide, and Like.
The Best of Picnik
Here are a few features I'd love to see expanded as Picnik moves to Google+.
Cross platform compatibility. Picnik works on Macs, Windows, and Linux computers. It also works on Android tablets in the Browser app. I'd love to see a dedicated photo editing app that makes it even easier to edit photos on Android tablets, especially now that conductive styluses are available for tablets, including pressure sensitive models.
Imports and exports. You can import and export Picnik files from a variety of photo hosting sites. Google hosts the Data Liberation Front for moving data into and out of various Google services. It would be a crying shame if they ended a data liberation ability in a product just to try to boost Google+ use.
Ordering Prints. Google+ is about being social, but part of social photo sharing is the ability to order prints. Google could make this an easy process by allowing that really cute seasonal sticker to make it onto this year's Christmas card order.