Facebook buys mobile photo-sharing app company Instagram for whopping $1 billion; content and community consultant Lynne d Johnson says deal helps Facebook’s mobile experience, stresses importance of allowing Instagram to innovate
When Facebook does something, it definitely does it with a splash.
Facebook announced Monday that it will buy Instagram, the San Francisco-based photo-sharing app for mobile devices. The purchase, which is a combination of cash and Facebook shares, is expected to close later this quarter.
Lynne d Johnson, a content and community consultant and former senior social media strategist at R/GA digital ad agency, says it’s particularly important for Facebook to allow Instagram the creative independence, and hopes the popular new photo app company won’t just get absorbed into Facebook and lose its original appeal.
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“If done the right way, Instagram will offer Facebook users a better photo sharing experience with the ability to connect that photo sharing experience with more social networks. Also, by acquiring Instagram and working with its founders and team, Facebook may have the opportunity to create an overall better mobile experience with a much more solid and beautiful user interface,” Johnson said. ”But if Facebook just gobbles it up and doesn’t allow Instagram to keep innovating, Instagram will loose it’s cache and popularity with the current hip, young, and trendy crowd that currently enjoy its features and services.”
She added: “Overall, I’m worried about it just becoming an appendage to Facebook, though the CEO promises that it won’t be. Instagram is seen as an exclusive fun place; opening it to the masses may lose some of the artsy, spirited, inspirational types of imagery you see there now from photo enthusiasts. Instagram is like Flickr used to be, say eight years ago, in that way. Once it becomes full of family and booze party photos, it’ll change the dynamics and the culture. But it definitely in that way also offers Facebook users a better photo experience.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the purchase will enhance Facebook users’ abilities to share great photos with friends based on their interests. He also said Facebook is committed to building and growing Instagram independently.
“Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people,” Zuckerberg said. “We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience. We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.”
Zuckerberg preempted any questions about whether Facebook would try to acquire other startups to bring into the Facebook fold, saying, “this is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all.”
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Two twentysomethings just out of college – Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger – launched Instagram in October 2010 and just 18 months later, the company’s photo-sharing app has gone viral, with 30 million registered users ranging from fashion industry insiders to President Barack Obama. With the Facebook deal, the companies will work to “build a better Instagram for everyone,” Systrom and Krieger said in a post on their company’s site.
“Today, we couldn’t be happier to announce that Instagram has agreed to be acquired by Facebook,” the duo said. “Every day that passes, we see more experiences being shared through Instagram in ways that we never thought possible. …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. 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. We’ll continue to add new features to the product and find new ways to create a better mobile photos experience.”
Facebook purchased the location-based social network Gowalla in December 2011 so Gowalla employees could work on Facebook’s Timeline feature, but the smaller company shut down the following March. Facebook also purchased the up-and-coming FriendFeed in August 2009; that app is supposed to enable you to discover and discuss the interesting stuff your friends find on the web.
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