How do most people use Facebook? They snap a picture and upload it. One of the ironies of Facebook is that photo sharing is one of its prime functions, yet its photo handling options are so limited. Facebook hopes to remedy that with its recent acquisition of Instagram.
Instagram is a photo sharing app for your phone. Its photos are square, giving them the feel of an old fashioned Polaroid or Instamatic picture. There are 17 different filters that can be applied to the photo, allowing you to color your photo to match your feelings. You can add a title and share it immediately with your social networks. You can follow or be followed, in pretty much the same way you would on Pinterest or Twitter.
Instagram launched in the fall of 2010, and soared to the top of the app store in iTunes within 24 hours. By March 2012 it had over 22 million users. In April 2012, Instagram added its Android app and one million new users in a single day.
This may have been the tipping point for Facebook. No longer just a cell phone app, Instagram was now a true social network. Facebook moved quickly to acquire the company. Tech bloggers have speculated that Facebook was afraid a rival social network might move on Instagram.
This merger has stirred fears over Facebook’s plans for Instagram. In December 2011, Facebook acquired Gowalla, a service that allowed users to check in at various locations, and then shut it down in March of 2012. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerman, in a bid to allay fears, promised to run Instagram as a separate brand, even allowing users to continue posting to other social networks, and to keep Facebook friends and Instagram followers separate.
Facebook paid one billion dollars for Instagram, ahead of its planned stock offering later this spring. Only time will tell if it paid too much.