Facebook Owns Instagram: You Got A Problem With That?

    April 10, 2012
    Chris Crum

As previously reported, Facebook has purchased Instagram for $1 billion. The app is enormously popular, and being Facebook-owned will most likely make it even more so. Still, some users have a problem with the news, whether it be the expansion of their beloved community, Facebook privacy concerns, or whatever.

Do you use Instagram? Will you still use it now that Facebook owns it? Let us know in the comments.

The whole thing is very interesting considering a recent survey found that Facebook users were rather annoyed by the plethora of Instagram pics that were already flooding their news feeds.

That’s really just a sign of how popular the service is, however, and until last week, it was only available for iOS. The Android version took off immediately, much to the ridiculous chagrin of some iOS users. Facebook’s 800 million+ user base should not do much to slow down its growth, even if some are leaving (or at least saying they will).

Here are a couple tweets that sum up a larger trend:

instagram: it’s like leaving a house I live in with people I love, because they turned the happy house into a bank. 3 hours ago via Tweetbot for iOS ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

I think it would be great if every #Instagram user quit in the wake of the FB buy, leaving it worthless. 22 hours ago via web ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

The inevitable “how to leave Instagram” articles have been coming out of the woodwork since the news. Many of them are pointing to something called Instaport, which is presented as “a simple way to export all your Instagram photos to other social services or your local hard drive.”

There are certainly many to choose from. Obviously Google+/Picasa web albums, and Flickr, but there is also Picplz (which I had been using on Android rather than caring if Instagram was available. It basically accomplishes the same thing, though it may not have quite as many effects). There’s PicYou, Lightbox, and plenty of others. Just Google “photo filter apps” and you’ll find plenty of options. There’s always room for other competitors to step up as well. What if Imgur (which anyone who uses Reddit is very accustomed to), were to add some features and mobile apps into their strategy?

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom shared some thoughts about the deal on the Instagram blog. “When Mike and I started Instagram nearly two years ago, we set out to change and improve the way the world communicates and shares,” he writes. “We’ve had an amazing time watching Instagram grow into a vibrant community of people from all around the globe. Today, we couldn’t be happier to announce that Instagram has agreed to be acquired by Facebook.”

“Every day that passes, we see more experiences being shared through Instagram in ways that we never thought possible,” he says. “It’s because of our dedicated and talented team that we’ve gotten this far, and with the support and cross-pollination of ideas and talent at a place like Facebook, we hope to create an even more exciting future for Instagram and Facebook alike.”

Don’t worry about Instagram shutting down and becoming simply a Facebook feature. At least for now (Things change. Ask picnik users).

“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,” says Systrom. “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,” he adds. “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.”

Users and the media have weighed in with all kinds of opinions and speculation in the short time since the announcement.

Bruce Upbin at Forbes calls it “smart arbitrage”, and a defensive move, given that Facebook has plenty of money to spare and isn’t in any desperate need for more users.

Dan Frommer at SplatF calls the deal, “brilliant” because Instagram is rapidly growing, it has a noteworthy team behind it, and Facebook just took down its no. 1 threat.”

“The biggest threat to Facebook is a mobile-only or mobile-first social network that captures the increasing amount of time spent on smartphones in a way Facebook can’t or doesn’t,” he says.

I’m not sure I’d agree that it’s Facebook’s number one threat, but it is a valid point, regardless. It could have been a threat, regardless. In the same way Google’s biggest threat is people depending on its search engine less in favor of a more diverse selection of services and apps, Facebook faces a similar threat in how people engage with one another. Photos, Instagram’s forte, are certainly a major element of Facebook engagement.

The LA Times compares the deal to Google’s acquisition of YouTube. That deal actually brought a great deal of criticism Google’s way, but I think it’s getting to the point where it is making a great deal more sense to a lot of the doubters.

Mashable’s Chris Taylor talks about how Instagram as a product will benefit from Facebook’s large talent pool. “If Instagram had had an assist from thousands of eager Facebook engineers, do you really think the Android version would have taken that long?” Taylor writes. “Not to mention the iPad version of Instagram, which still hasn’t arrived. Granted, Facebook doesn’t have the best track record in timely iPad apps either, but I’m betting they’ve learned some lessons there.”

Matt Rosoff at Business Insider reports that the deal happened so quickly that no other companies (like Google) had a chance to bid on the acquisition. Likewise, Nicholas Carlson suggests Twitter blew it, given that co-founder Jack Dorsey “believed enough in Instagram to invest his own money in it.”

The Twitter angle is interesting in itself, given the die hard iOS crowd, which makes up a significant portion of Instagram users, and the increased integration of Twitter into the most recent version of iOS itself.

We have to wonder if Google would have pursued it. Perhaps as a defensive move of its own. The company is certainly not shy about acquisitions, though they have slowed a bit this year. Google may, however, be confident in Google+ itself in the photos department. There’s no question that photography has been one key area where Google+ seems to have flourished. There are a whole lot of photographers using Google+ on a daily basis. I know this because I follow many of them. Let’s not forget that it’s directly integrated with Picasa Web albums, as well. In addition to that, Google is implementing the popular Picnik into Google+ as it is shuttering it as a standalone service.

Do you think Instagram will benefit or suffer from the acquisition? Will Facebook improve? Let us know what you think in the comments.