Ever since Google CEO Larry Page announced plans to put "more wood behind fewer arrows" last June, the Web giant has cleaved a few dozen services from its portfolio, everything from Google Health to Google Labs.
But none of the cuts has caused as much outcry and as many allegations of Google underhandedness as the closing of its Picnik photo-editing service. The company said Fridayand move many of the popular service's features to other Google properties, including the Google+ social network.
Since the move was announced on Picnik's Web site, the site has been flooded with more than 1,250 comments, many of which slam the closure as a scheming effort to boost the number of Google+ users. There are also plenty of back-and-forth comments among users challenging each other. But a large number of the comments criticize Google's tactics.
"I WONT USE GOOGLE+ to access picnik features," a user named Kayla wrote. "Come on Google, pull your head out of your... and think about consumers, and not social networking the world by force."
The concern, voiced over and over in the comments section from loyal Picnik users, is that Google is trying to force them to join Google+. And many of them are simply unimpressed by the nascent social network and uninterested in using it.
"I have been trying to use Google+ but is very clumsy, unwieldy, and just plain not usable," a Picnik user dubbed Yogi wrote in the comments. "I think that this is just another effort by Google to make its users use a product that is not very good. I love Picnick, I hate Google+."
To be sure, many of the comments are from Picnik users who are happy with the service they have and are worried about changes that might come. But plenty of the comments suggest Google is forsaking Picnik's users in the name of building its social network.
"I guess Google is becoming a mini-Microsoft. Buys, destroys, and leaves unhappy users in the wake of big business," a customer who chose the name Picnik User wrote in a comment. "I'm very disappointed in Google. I thought you guys were above the fray."
A Google representative declined to comment, referring instead to a blog post announcing the closure by its vice president of product management, Dave Girouard. In it, Girouard wrote that Google intends to integrate various features of the services it's shutting down into "the overall Google experience."
It's not the first time Google has faced criticism over accusations of using one business to drive customers to Google+. Earlier this month, the company rolled out a new search feature calledthat factors in posts from Google+ but not other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and others. The move drew heated criticism from rivals, and earlier today, the director of product at Facebook, Blake Ross, working with engineers from Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace, that lets Web searchers use Google to find results from those sites as well as LinkedIn, Flickr, Quora, and a host of others.