Unless you have been asleep for the last week, chances are you have heard the news that Facebook has bought the 2-year-old app ‘Instagram’ for a whopping 1 billion USD. Breaking it down that works out at $80million per employee and $33 for each of their 33 million users. An offer I’m sure was very hard to refuse!
The news of this broke on Monday morning when Mark Zuckerberg himself took to Facebook to announce the new integration.
This was met with a mixed reaction. Many loyal Instagram-ers pledged to delete their account following the news claiming that Facebook would destroy it. The main reason for this reaction being that the whole world is yet to find out about Instagram, and that’s how users like it. As successful apps go this one is pretty niche, and although they have a strong 33 million following, the users represent its quirky arty nature through their photos. People fear that with an industry giant such as Facebook taking over the app it will turn into yet another mainstream public service. It’s comparable to when Coca-cola bought shares in healthy brand ‘Innocent’ – to an extent it could be seen as degrading the brand personality, replacing it with connotations associated with the buyer.
Not all responses were as extreme and others seemed amiable to the convergence of the two social networks claiming they already share their photos on Facebook, so it makes no difference.
At first, I was unsure as to which party I agreed with. As an avid Instagram user, I can understand the opinions of those deleting their accounts. The quirkiness of the app is why I like it, and in a way, it’s a ‘cool’ secret that I share with my community on there, which is significantly smaller to my Facebook community. And I, personally, do not share my Instagram photos on Facebook; only a select few make it onto Twitter. So it does feel like an intrusion on Facebook’s part.
However, Zuckerberg clearly states that Instagram isn’t changing. They are supporting the (now very wealthy) creators of Instagram in improving its services and help enable others to use it. As much as I love the app I could list a few of its flaws, and if Zuckerberg and his team can help fix these then surely it’s a win-win situation. Instagram remains the same brand with help from a super brand to make it better.
The founders of Instagram, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, are probably thinking this is too good to be true. Their two year old business has made them millionaires overnight and they are able to continue developing as if it was still there own.
In addition, Instagram is a free app, meaning that sooner or later users would have had to start paying or the developers would have had to start rolling in ads. Which I’m guessing would have sparked the same boycott as this news has. How else would they have repaid the investors? From this perspective, Facebook has saved Instagram from a foggy future.
Alas, as many have learnt, nothing is too good to be true and I fail to believe that Facebook are doing this out of the kindness of their cyber heart. After all, Instagram is one of the largest mobile social networks around, and Facebook needs mobile to work…