Google buys Instagram rival Nik Software; Zynga to acquire A Bit Lucky

18 Sep, 2012

Google Inc said it bought Instagram rival Nik Software, which makes award-winning photo editing application Snapseed, for an undisclosed amount.

Google and Facebook Inc are locked in a battle for social network followers that has increasingly shifted to mobile applications, such as photo editing.

While not as famous as Instagram, available for free on Apple's mobile devices, Snapseed has won a following for its editing prowess among photographers, despite a $4.99 price tag.

Nik Software says Snapseed has more than 9 million users while Instagram says it has more than 100 million.

"We want to help our users create photos they absolutely love, and in our experience Nik does this better than anyone," Vic Gundotra, Google's senior vice president, engineering, said on a Google+ post.

Facebook this year bought Instagram, which made an app for users to add filters and effects to pictures taken on their smartphones, for a cool $1 billion.

"Google's playing chase up in social," BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis said. "It's yet another tuck in they have done, trying to boost their Google+ offering."

Snapseed won Apple Inc's "iPad App Of The Year" award in 2011 for its multitouch photo editing interface.

"We've always aspired to share our passion for photography with everyone, and with Google's support we hope to be able to help many millions more people create awesome pictures," Nik Software said on its Website.

Google's Gundotra also said that Google+ had hit over 400 million users this week and had just crossed 100 million monthly active users.

Zynga to acquire A Bit Lucky to roll out more complex games

Zynga Inc will acquire A Bit Lucky, a digital gaming studio known for Facebook-based titles like "Lucky Train."

Terms of the deal, announced on Monday, were not disclosed.

Zynga said more than 20 A Bit Lucky employees, currently based in San Mateo, California, will join Zynga's San Francisco division.

The acquisition reflects Zynga's shift toward so-called mid-core offerings - titles that sit between highly produced, packaged games and relatively basic "casual games" like Words with Friends and FarmVille that for years have been the bread and butter of Zynga's business.

The deal comes shortly after Zynga hired John Tobias, a co-creator of the "Mortal Kombat" series, to work on a new mid-core title, Zynga executive Bill Jackson noted in a blog post on Monday.

The game publisher is diversifying its product line at a time when usage numbers for even its most popular online games like "FarmVille" and "CityVille" are trending downward, prompting questions about whether casual gaming will remain popular in the months and years to come.

The company is also locked in litigation with competitor Electronic Arts, which sued Zynga last month saying it unfairly copied elements of EA's "Sims" game.

Zynga then accused EA on Friday of breaching a settlement in which Zynga agreed to restrictions on how it could try to hire EA employees. Those details were supposed to be kept out of public view, but Zynga inadvertently disclosed them.

Zynga's shares closed on Monday at $3.08, down 3.1 per cent for the day and off almost 70 per cent from its $10 December IPO price.