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Google plays catch-up with deal to acquire Snapseed

In a sign of the importance of a strong photo-related offering in the converging mobile and social space, Google has acquired Nik Software, maker of the photo-sharing application Snapseed.

While terms of the deal were not disclosed, it appears that Google was eager to grab up a photo-sharing app to boost its Google + social network and enhance mobile marketing opportunities. To a certain degree, Google is playing catch up here, following Facebook?s highly visible acquisition of the Instagram photo-sharing app for $1 billion back in April.

?People understand that in mobile, you can?t really have a social network unless you have the ability to not only upload a photo but also have these photo-editing tools to enhance the playfulness and the use,? said Scott Michaels, vice president at Atimi Software, Vancouver, Canada.

?If you look at Google +, while you can post photos, you have to use other tools to do the editing,? he said.

?The use of the camera phones has well overtaken use of other cameras. If you want to be serious in the mobile space, an app like Snapseed is table stakes - you have to have this as part of the offering.?

Photo-sharing goes mainstream
Snapseed is a photo-editing app that enables users to enhance their images and add various filter effects. While Snapseed users currently share images via email, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and Instagram, this ability does not currently extend to Google +.

However, this is likely to change as a result of the deal.

Snapseed is available as an iOS app, with an Android version reportedly in the works. It is also available on desktops.

Nik Software, which is based in San Diego, also offers other photo-editing software.

The success of Instagram has been instrumental in making the idea of editing and sharing photos via an app mainstream.

Initially, Google will probably enhance Snapseed to try to leverage the growing interest in photo-sharing apps to create a new revenue-generating vehicle for it and drive traffic to other Google properties.

?Google is looking to monetize the Snapseed user base from an advertising perspective,? said Josh Martin, director of app research for the global wireless practice at Strategy Analytics, Newton, MA. ?They want to leverage the platform to drive traffic to Google +.

?I think they really want to get the traffic and to get the eyeballs and see if they can leverage that into something,? he said.

?There is a lot of opportunity here to leverage that broad interest to increase interest in the app and drive engagement within the app, which translates to more advertising revenue and translates to other Google properties.?

Brand opportunities
Google may also use the acquisition of Snapseed to enhance the photo-editing and sharing capabilities for its social network Google+, which has not taken the world by storm so far.

Google will also likely eventually roll out the Snapseed functionality to the mobile handset, possibly as a standalone app for Google +.

The acquisition could also help Google boost its offerings for brands.

?Brands are sharing their Instagram feeds the same way they share pins on Pinterest,? Atimi Software?s Mr. Michaels said. ?Google doesn?t have that today.

?It will definitely be a long time to get to the point where a Snapseed feed has value for brands to publish into but this deal gets them on the way toward that,? he said.

?It will be a wait and see. Google doesn?t have a great track record with a lot of the social networking things they have tried.?

By making the photo capabilities available on mobile, this enables brands to grab location information.

?This is what the other platforms have and Google doesn?t have that today,? Mr. Michaels said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York