Facebook is now 'in a relationship' with Instagram
10 April 2012
First the facts: Facebook's billion-dollar valuation of Instagram makes the less than two year old startup more valuable than the 161 year old The New York Times Company. Only yesterday it had a closing price on the New York Stock Exchange of $946m. Now, although Instagram had been reserved for the Apple-based iOS-only club, on the 3 April lnstagram decided to launch an Android version of the application. When this went viral across the mobile web it enabled Facebook users to upload pictures quicker than ever to their accounts. By the 9 April Facebook acquired Instagram and valued it at one billion-dollars. A mere coincidence?
Facebook’s planned flotation later this year could see Zuckerberg’s firm valued at as much as $100bn. The new acquisition of Instagram will only boost the numbers. Here is why: Facebook has essentially become the de facto of social networking; it has become an integral part of communication in everyday life, right from personal messages to facilitating protests during the Arab spring. Characteristically, Facebook’s biggest strength is that it lets people share real life events at their own will (privacy settings permitting of course).
Undoubtedly, pictures form an intrinsic chord of this process. So far, Facebook has been using its own platform to share pictures; for better or worse, the user didn’t have much choice but to stick with what Facebook was offering in order to upload and share pictures. Then along comes Instagram, a two year old new kid in town, armed with a bunch of creative and innovative people to create a storm on the mobile web. Facebook sees the opportunity and bang, acquires the most downloaded photo uploading app. Poof, sheer magic!
My big question is: Did Google miss a huge chance to revamp Google+ and stand next to the social networking giant? Maybe, maybe not. Google must have seen Instagram painting the town red, but didn’t see the point of acquiring it. Maybe just a week of data on how Android users are keeping the Instagram servers busy wasn’t quite enough to make that billion-dollar decision, or maybe Google want to move Google+ at its own pace. Anyway, the moment is gone.
What’s interesting is that Facebook realised that its blind spot was the speed at which people could upload photos on mobile devices. Uploading photos on Facebook has been terribly slow until now (six painful steps!). If Facebook is to keep its dominance in the social networking market, the prowess of mobile web cannot be underestimated. A study by Morgan Stanley reported that mobile web users will surpass desktop internet users around mid-2014.
With the speed mobile internet use is growing, this won’t come as a surprise to anyone in the valley. The alphabet soup of 2G, 3G, 4G, EDGE, etc. is moving aside to make place for a new alphanumeric lingua. The newfound relationship between Facebook and Instagram will give team Zuck a grand platform to personalise photo sharing even more. Meanwhile, here is a photo of the cosy relationship shot using an Android phone, uploaded through Instagram on Facebook. For now, well done Mark!