The first is Google’s official explanation: People are uploading a lot more photos and videos than they used to, making the service harder to sustain for free. “When we launched Google five years ago, the upload velocity that we had then, versus today’s mobile world, is a lot different,” Google Photos VP Shimrit Ben-Yair told me recently.
But there’s another explanation that Google didn’t make quite as explicit: The end of unlimited Google Photos storage marks a pivot of sorts for the search giant, away from being so overwhelmingly dependent on targeted ads as its dominant business model. The future of Google could be as much about subscription revenue as advertising, with Google Photos’ push for paid cloud storage as the centerpiece of those efforts.
Beyond the ad business
Google’s shift away from an ad-centric model isn’t entirely new. While advertising made up nearly 90% of the company’s revenues in 2015, that share has since fallen to 83.9% last year and 80.6%…