Nik Software Silver Efex Pro vignette

Google announced today that it’s scrapping the $150 purchase price for the Google Nik Collection and that users can now download it free of charge. At first glance, this is pretty amazing news but, reading between the lines of Google’s official statement, this may not be as great as it sounds:

“As we continue to focus our long-term investments in building incredible photo editing tools for mobile, including Google Photos and Snapseed, we’ve decided to make the Nik Collection desktop suite available for free, so that now anyone can use it.”

The Google Nik Collection contains some of the image-editing worlds most highly regarded plug-ins, including Colour Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Analog Efex Pro, HDR Efex Pro and Viveza. It also contains Dfine, for noise reduction, and Sharpener Pro for both capture and output sharpening processes.

Google makes it pretty plain that it’s the mobile market it’s interested in, not desktop software, and that was made apparent when it dropped the desktop version of Snapseed. There has also been very little development of the Nik plug-ins since Google took them over and, apart from the addition of the admittedly excellent Analog Efex Pro, Google’s largely confined itself to maintaining and updating what Nik Software had already written.

Users who paid for the Google Nik Collection in 2016 can expect a full refund from the search giant: “If you purchased the Nik Collection in 2016, you will receive a full refund, which we’ll automatically issue back to you in the coming days.”

The best-case scenario is that the Google Nik Collection continues to be available indefinitely. However, many followers of Google’s Google+ page, where the announcement was made, are wary. The worst-case scenario is that Google eventually drops the Google Nik Collection in the same way it did Snapseed, and without offering the software for sale to another publisher. After all, if Google was primarily interested in acquiring the Nik Software technology for mobile users, it’s unlikely to want to sell the desktop versions.

I really do hope I’m wrong. In the meantime, you might as well get it while you can, and you can download the Google Nik Collection free from the official website.