What Does Facebook Mean For Instagram?


Your favorite photography app is now owned by the social network you hate to love.
Your favorite photography app is now owned by the social network you hate to love.

What. A. Day. The single most important mobile app acquisition to date has sent the internet into a flurry of disarray. In case you haven’t heard from everyone except your aged grandmother, Facebook has bought Instagram for a mouth-dropping $1 billion.

There will be (and already have been) thousands of articles written on the internet about this news today, and for good reason — it deserves discussion. But what exactly does this all mean for our beloved Instagram?

The easy and immediate answer is simple: nothing. DON’T ABANDON SHIP FOR THERE IS HOPE! That’s good news for the Instagram addicts out there, since there are apparently over 30 million of you that like to share filtered photos of coffee and food.

Instagram isn’t changing right now. That fact was made clear when Mark Zuckerberg said “we’re [Facebook] committed to building and growing Instagram independently.” Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom also assured his users when the news broke:

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.

Instagram was valued at $500 million before the acquisition was announced, and the mobile-only app is the largest network of its kind with over 30 million iPhone users and the hottest Android app out there. The app’s co-founders scored $500 million out of the deal, so you better believe that they’re happy.

From a branding perspective, Instagram will keep the same, hipsterish, retro look and feel we’ve all come to know and love. Facebook will be Facebook and Instagram will be Instagram.

At least for now.

Some of you may remember the plans for a secret photo-sharing Facebook app that were leaked last year. It looks like Facebook decided to throw its weight around and eat up its biggest competitor instead of doing its own thing. That’s what this acquisition is about. It’s one the oldest tricks in business: buy your competition. When you’ve got a vibrant photography community and a really polished app, why not just whip out your checkbook and call it a day?

The bottom line of all this is photos… lots and lots of photos.

I totally agree with Om Malik’s take:

Facebook was scared shitless and knew that for first time in its life it arguably had a competitor that could not only eat its lunch, but also destroy its future prospects. Why? Because Facebook is essentially about photos, and Instagram had found and attacked Facebook’s achilles heel — mobile photo sharing.

Instagram doesn’t need Facebook, Facebook needs Instagram.

Let’s be honest, viewing photos on Facebook sucks. It’s a muddled, buggy experience, yet it’s what most of us use Facebook for the most. Over 250 million images are uploaded to Facebook each day, making it the most popular photo-sharing site on the internet. Facebook is without a doubt the YouTube of photos.

While you probably won’t notice anything different about Instagram for awhile, expect Facebook to start bleeding into the app over time. The two will become more connected and rely heavily on each other, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Instagram eventually becomes the way to share photos on Facebook. It could serve as the front end for mobile users and the back end for everyone. There will also be paid filters and other kinds of revenue-creating features integrated into the Instagram app over time. It will slowly morph. The key will be morphing it in a way that the app’s users appreciate.

There’s really no need to hastily delete your Instagram account and call it quits. Nothing terrible has happened yet. The Instagram app is the exact same app it was yesterday. The real test will be to see what kind of “app” it is 6 months.

If you want to see what Facebook means for Instagram, stick out for the next few months and see if you feel the need to jump ship. If you do end up ditching Instagram, Facebook will have failed us all.

If you’d like to read some more perspectives, here are some other great articles I’ve collected:

Some reactions from @cultofmac followers on Twitter:





[top image courtesy of Macgasm]