Yesterday it was announced that Facebook acquired Instagram for a whopping 1 billion dollars. Can you say tech bubble? Anyway, that’s a different discussion. This acquisition seems to have spawned a lot of hate across the inter-webs and every other post on my RSS feed is how to backup your photos and delete Instagram. Aside from the privacy issues Facebook has had in the past, which they seem to have fixed, I don’t understand why people think this is a bad thing.
Instagram makes sharing your photo’s easy. They also give you options to put some cool effects on them. But at its root it’s meant to be social and the one thing a social network needs to thrive is people. Instagram has around 50 million users, while Facebook has over 800 million users. I think I am following about 22 people and being followed by about 17. While on Facebook I am friends with about 400 people. I think the integration will get more people using Instagram and make it better.
Let’s not forget that up until this point, Instagram has been funded completely via venture capital funds. They have no revenue model to speak of. If they were to stay independent, at some point this would need to change. I can only think of three ways that could happen. One way is to start adding adds to the picture feeds which no one would like. Another is to come out with a tiered pricing model like basic/free account and premium. The last would be to start charging for the app. Chances are it would be a hybrid of all of them, but no matter what, it, would take away from the user experience. I’m sure a plan for revenue would have to be worked out soon, as with 50 million people all posting pictures online, storage is an issue. Now that they have the might of Facebook behind them, these issues will cease to exist.
One of the other complaints I have been seeing is “what if Facebook kills the app?” While it’s entirely possible that Facebook saw a weakness in themselves that Instagram was exploiting, it’s doubtful that was their motivation for the acquisition. It’s not a good business decision to buy a product for 1 billion dollars just to destroy it. I think it’s much more likely that they will bring the Instagram experience to the photos section of your Facebook page, another win for all of us. Even the following piece can remain, all Facebook needs to do is integrate the following piece built into Facebook.
In the end I think the integration is a great thing. Don’t run off and delete Instagram just yet, unless you are one of the few outliers that hate Facebook and don’t have an account.