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Apple needs to fire a big shot in the photo wars

Dan Moren | June 2, 2015
Free, unlimited photo storage is a lot to ask, but Apple needs to do something to compete with Amazon and Google.

That's the reason Google's Photos announcement from this week's I/O conference intrigues me. Not only does Google have a solid track record with services, it also produces excellent iOS apps. Mountain View, smartly realizing that it wants as many people on its products, regardless of what platform they use, has carved out a nice little niche for itself on iOS over the last few years.

Not that Google is problem-free--the company often takes criticism around its collection of information, which sometimes comes across as...let's say "overzealous." To paraphrase Ian Malcolm, Google gets so wrapped up in thinking about all the cool things that it could do that it sometimes doesn't stop to wonder if it should. So the idea that Google Photos can automatically assemble all the photos of someone from birth to the present day? Yeah, that's starting to veer a little bit towards "creepy" on the Creepycoolometer.

Stay in the picture, Apple

And here's the rub. I'm an Apple user for a reason, and I really want Apple to do a great job of storing and presenting my photos. I'm rooting for Cupertino here, because I think the company has a history of being on the side of its customers. But in addition to the wrinkles with its new photo solution, the company's current approach to cloud storage pricing is simply not competitive.

Google and Amazon are both offering free options for storing a lot of photos, albeit with caveats, as well as low-priced plans for storing pretty much every picture you take. Apple, meanwhile, still has only a paltry 5GB for all your online data, and is charging twice as much as Google for a terabyte of storage. Some question the entitlement that leads us to argue that photo storage should be free--I say it's not entitlement, but clearly a matter of market forces: when companies like Amazon and Google start offering free cloud storage, well, that's competition at work.

For me, the clock's ticking. Though it's unclear exactly when my current setup might expire, I'm giving Apple as much time as I can to respond to Google and Amazon's respective salvos. When the company's Worldwide Developers Conference rolls around in just a short couple weeks, I'm hoping that Apple takes a hard look at its photo offering and paints us a compelling picture.

 

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