We don't usually cover the latest social media happenings here at TR, but this latest development almost beggars belief. Yes, as Reuters reports, Facebook is buying photo filter and sharing service Instagram for $1 billion. One billion dollars.
Mark Zuckerberg broke the news on Facebook yesterday, saying he wants his company to "work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests." Zuckerberg adds that Instagram will continue to grow independently and will still let users post pictures to "other social networks," as well.
According to Reuters, Instagram lacks "any significant revenue." Its only strength may be its sizable following—30 million users—which will no doubt grow now that the service is available for Android. (Instagram spent most of its 18-month existence as an iOS exclusive.)
Now, I love photography and sharing photos. But really? Really? Instagram's chief appeal seems to be ruining perfectly good digital photos by cropping them into a Polaroid aspect ratio, messing up the white balance, and adding a bit of vignetting. There's a sharing component, too, but photo sharing has been done better by others—and Facebook has decent photo sharing functionality already built in. I wonder what it says about our society when something so pointless and frivolous amasses such value. And don't get me started about those iPhone users voicing their anger over Instagram's Android release.
Facebook's takeover may not be as frivolous as the app itself, though, of course. Reuters says Instagram's leadership "has mulled possible strategies to expand the service into a fully featured social network." Perhaps Zuckerberg was eager to nip that in the bud and avoid having to face yet another competitor somewhere down the line. At least, I hope that was the reason.