Google Photos Just Made the Case for Breaking Up Big Tech

A new policy perfectly illustrates a core issue across the industry

Will Oremus


New Google Photos icon.
Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

After five years of Google Photos offering unlimited, free storage of “high-quality” compressed images, Google announced on Wednesday that its policy is changing. Starting next June, any new photos you upload will count toward the 15 gigabytes of free storage offered to every Google account. (Your old photos won’t.) After that, you’ll have to pay a subscription fee for Google One, its cloud storage service.

In one sense, that’s a totally reasonable policy change for a product that has become wildly popular since the initial free-storage offer. Storage isn’t really free or unlimited, after all, and 15 gigabytes is still a lot of space. Some even argue that paying Google directly for services such as Google Photos represents a healthier business relationship long-term than paying with your data or attention.

But viewed from another lens, it’s a galling bait-and-switch and an object lesson in anticompetitive behavior by a Big…