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Picnik, the online image editing application, is to cease. In a blog post on January 20th 2012 they announced “Since joining Google in 2010, we have been creating editing magic in Google products while continuing to keep Picnik awesome. But now we get to focus on even awesomer things. Picnik will be closing on April 19, 2012.”.

Picnik is an online photo editing service with multiple image manipulation features which enable effects similar to those offered by Adobe’s Photoshop. Users can import images and re-size them, edit colors, add effects and frames, create collages, themed edges and more. It can import photos natively from Facebook, Picasa Web Albums, Flickr, Yahoo Image search and also offers the ability to upload from a computer or website. Editing from Picnik’s basic photo editing tools are free to use, with premium tools and effects available for subscription.

Picnik is lauded among the online journalism world as the best tool to edit images without using Photoshop by Adobe, and the closure has been met with much disappointment in the blogosphere; blogger Tahira says “I’ll miss it! I’m not a photoshop user so it was perfect for me. I’m not sure what I’m going to use next”. However, most of the tools and effects currently available on Picnik are now integrated to Google+, where the Creative Kit.incorporates many of the features. Since announcing the site closure, Picnik is offering premium services for free until April 19th 2012, and is dealing with the cessation of use by allowing current users a “Picnik Takeout” option to download their images. In addition, a refund of any subscriptions paid is being offered in full: “By “full” we mean the whole darn thing. Yep, this means even if you are on your very last day of an annual membership, we will refund you the entire $24.95. Just because we want to say thanks.” (via Picnik).

Picnik was launched in 2007, a product of Britnik, a Seattle based company. Britnik created Picnik with the aim of “creating fun, innovative and easy ways to make your online photos better” (via Picnik). The company was founded by Mike Harrington, Darrin Massena and Jonathan Sposato, all three with careers in the gaming industry followed by Microsoft, then start up companies (Valve, Spiffcode and Phatbits, respectively) before launching a company together.

Google announced the axe alongside other services including Needlebase, Social Graph API, Urchin and Google Sky Map, saying “As we head into 2012, we’ve been sticking to some old resolutions — the need to focus on building amazing products that millions of people love to use every day,” (via Google blog), “That means taking a hard look at products that replicate other features, haven’t achieved the promise we had hoped for or can’t be properly integrated into the overall Google experience.” It also added that it will use Picnik staff to “continue creating photo-editing magic across Google products.”

When the service was acquired by Google in 2010, the web giant was implementing a strategy of purchasing start up companies with web technology along their long term vision, and we are seeing now as Google+ rolls out how it all fits into the grand plan. As Picnik features now form part of Creative Kit there is much anticipation of further services being added.

Mashable recommends 4 other Picnik alternatives for those not keen on Google having the monopoly of images, citing Fotoflexer, Pixenate, Freeonlinephotoeditor.com and Pixlr as ones to try.