What’s ahead for Instagram?

Apr 12, 2012
Tech

“A billion dollars? For an app that sepia-tones my stupid bar photos? The Angry Birds developers are spinning in their officially licensed Angry Birds brand swivel chairs right now.” That was basically my reaction to finding out that Facebook went ahead and wrote a check with a whole lot of zeroes on it in order […]

“A billion dollars? For an app that sepia-tones my stupid bar photos? The Angry Birds developers are spinning in their officially licensed Angry Birds brand swivel chairs right now.”

That was basically my reaction to finding out that Facebook went ahead and wrote a check with a whole lot of zeroes on it in order to purchase everyone’s favorite photo editing app, Instagram.

As word spread across the Internet, the response from everyday users was a mix of shock at the dollars in the deal, followed by worry that Facebook is totally going to ruin Instagram. But the more measured portions of the web took a deep breath and had some fun number crunching.

My two favorite tweets on the subjects put the deal in the proper perspective without utilizing their tinfoil hats. First, Dennis K. Berman (@Dkberman) offered up: “Remember this day. 551-day-old Instagram is worth $1 billion. 116-year-old New York Times Co.: $967 million. Steven Santos (@Stevensantos) then followed with: “INSTAGRAM: Make digital pictures look like old film stock; sold for $1 billion. KODAK: Actual film stock; Going out of business.”

Yahoo! checked in and suggested that the biggest changes to Instagram would be the inclusion of ads (to help pay back some of that $1 billion Facebook just spent), and the addition of features that can only be used via Facebook so that the deal actually has some value for Facebook outside of adding a name-player to their roster.

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MSNBC’s tech blog, Technolog, also weighed in, pointing out that Facebook and Instagram’s privacy policies are pretty similar already so any additional worry about losing the rights to your photos is probably unfounded. Essentially, Facebook and Instagram don’t claim to own the rights to the things you upload, but they still have the right to reproduce them, royalty-free, as long as they’re attached to the service.

Personally, I don’t think you’ll see that much change within the Instagram app itself. You don’t pay a billion dollars for something and then decide it’s broken. If anything, you’ll see Instagram-style photo editing features added to Facebook’s photo uploading options, and maybe a more cohesive integration of Instagram into Facebook. It will be a bit like how Spotify works seamlessly inside of the site, but I expect Instagram to retain the ease-of-use simplicity that garnered it such a following in the first place.

And if you’re fretting about what Facebook will do to your sweet beach pictures and thinking of jumping to another app, there’s a bit near the end of the MSNBC story that is worth thinking about.

Chet Wisniewski, Senior Security Advisor at Sophos Canada, is quoting as being dubious of people who think they’ll be saved from future privacy concerns by a different photo app.

“Any service may choose to follow similar practices as Facebook or be purchased by them tomorrow,” Wisniewski told MSNBC.com. “If you want full control of your information, keep it on your own site and only make it available to who you want.”

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Of course, everyone wants to have their cake and eat it too. People want to be able to share their intimate moments quickly and easily with their best friends, but they don’t want those moments exploited for profit and gain by a company that will not compensate them.

We’ll find out soon enough if this deal is just a sick long con so Facebook can stare at private birthday party photos in their home office. But if I had to bet, I think the worst thing that’ll come out of the whole deal will be your when your mom starts exploring her artistic side and linking her new photos to your wall for all your friends to see.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

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