Google Photos has long allowed users to upload an unlimited number of compressed photos to Google’s servers for posterity. But now, Google says, it will no longer allow unlimited uploads. Users will now have to shell out for a Google One subscription if their total Google account usage exceeds 15GB starting June 2021. This is a significant change for Google, as Google Photos has over a billion users, according to its product lead David Lieb.
“80% of Google Photos users will be able to keep uploading content for about 3 more years before running out of space,” Lieb estimated in a Twitter thread. Shimrit Ben-Yair, Vice President of Google Photos, said in a post: “This change also allows us to keep pace with the growing demand for storage.” Photos uploaded to Google Photos before June 1, 2021 will not be counted against the 15GB limit.
This is a significant shift for Google, even in India. Google One’s cheapest plan costs ₹130 per month in India, and there are few competitors to Google Photos that have the kind of resources Google can cost-effectively tap into. That means that people taking a lot of photos may have to choose between no longer using Google Photos or paying up — the third alternative is no longer receiving email, which is what happens when your Google Account storage runs out. “As your storage nears 15 GB, we will notify you in the app and follow up by email,” Ben-Yair said.
Along with YouTube Premium and YouTube Music, whose paid plans Google has been pushing heavily in India, this could give the company some direct consumer revenue traction to counterbalance the ad revenue that still constitutes the overwhelming majority of how the company earns money.
Note that fully uncompressed photo uploads were never allowed on Google, outside of people who purchased a Google Pixel, and those users can now only have unlimited compressed photo uploads.