With nearly 30 million users, you’ve undoubtedly seen friends using Instagram to post photos to Facebook in recent months, so you’re probably thinking that that the social media colossus is only acquiring the mobile photo-sharing startup as part as a way to add yet another weapon to their arsenal before what some see as the inevitable battle with Google+ over social media dominance in the near future. While that certainly is a valid argument, Business Insider pointed something out in February that might give us more of a clue as to why FB would drop $1 billion to gobble up Instagram:
Already, startups backed by millions of dollars in venture capital are attacking Facebook’s weakness in this area.
The current leader of this insurgency is an iPhone app called Instagram, which grew from 1 million users in January 2011 to 15 million in December 2011.
Instagram isn’t perfect. You can’t label your photos with your friends’ names like you can on Facebook, for example.
But what’s great about it is that it is very fast – especially compared to Facebook.
With the Facebook iPhone app, there are 6 screens a user has to go through before a user can actually take a picture. With Instagram, there is one.
This is a long term problem for Facebook.
According to Mary Meeker, sometime in the middle of 2013, there will be more people on the Internet via their mobile devices than desktops.
Facebook is aware of this problem. A source familiar with Facebook’s photos team tells us one of its top priorities is “reduce the friction to uploading content” through mobile devices.
It would seem that today’s acquisition is less about beating Google to the punch (although there’s that too), and more about mobile photo sharing and the “Insta” that Instagram brings to it. Kudos to Business Insider for their prescient reporting just two short months ago. Many, like Dan York at Disruptive Conversations were caught totally off guard.
For Instagram users concerned that this means the end of their favorite photo sharing app, here’s what the company’s CEO had to say about the move today on their own blog:
It’s important to be clear that Instagram is not going away. We’ll be working with Facebook to evolve Instagram and build the network. We’ll continue to add new features to the product and find new ways to create a better mobile photos experience.
The Instagram app will still be the same one you know and love. You’ll still have all the same people you follow and that follow you.You’ll still be able to share to other social networks. And you’ll still have all the other features that make the app so fun and unique.
We’re psyched to be joining Facebook and are excited to build a better Instagram for everyone.
Couple that with what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg said in today’s announcement, and you should be confident that you can continue using Instagram as usual (for now!):
We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience. We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.
These and many other features are important parts of the Instagram experience and we understand that. We will try to learn from Instagram’s experience to build similar features into our other products. At the same time, we will try to help Instagram continue to grow by using Facebook’s strong engineering team and infrastructure.
Others aren’t so convinced, like C.G. at So It’s Come to This:
They always say that. Gowalla shut down after Facebook bought them. There isn’t a need to keep two independent photo networks up at the same time. Facebook acquires for talent. I expect Instagram to go dark in less than a year from now. I’ll be shocked if it lasts more than 9 months.
Commenters on the Business Insider post are debating whether or not today’s decision is a good move and what it means for social media/photo sharing in general, but we want to know what you think?