In brief: Google dropped a bombshell yesterday when it announced that, after five years, its ever-popular Google Photos service would no longer offer unlimited media storage for free. Pixel smartphone owners will be immune to this change, but only if they own the Pixel 2 upwards to a Pixel 5. All future Pixel customers will reportedly be subject to the same 15 GB limitations as everyone else.
For those that don't take many photos, this news (thanks, Android Central) is relatively inconsequential. Still, Google's Pixel fanbase -- which is sizable these days -- is not likely to be pleased.
Now that Google has made its intentions regarding Google Photos' free plan clear, Pixel owners probably felt that they'd just found a new benefit for staying within Google's smartphone ecosystem. Unfortunately, that won't be the case forever.
Frankly, I don't entirely understand Google's decision here. Free, unlimited Google Photos storage would've been an excellent selling point for the tech giant to use in its marketing materials down the line (for the Pixel 6, 7, and so on).
It could've been a clever strategy: eliminate a certain tier of service for everyone but your most "premium" customers (Pixel owners), and try to convince the public to buy your latest devices to get that service back.
Regardless, we can only assume Google has already run the numbers here and decided that keeping unlimited storage in place for all Pixel owners in perpetuity isn't worth the cost of servers to host that content.
On the bright side, the Pixel 6 has not even been announced yet, so this dilemma isn't an immediate threat. And hey-- who knows? Maybe Google changes will change its mind between now and the release of its next major smartphone.