Photo-sharing startup Instagram has just six employees and isn't even a year old, but it has already been adopted by 8 million users. Earlier this week, we learned Facebook is rumored to be entering Instagram's turf by adding photo filters for its 750 million users. Despite the fact that Facebook is the world's largest social network, with the most popular mobile app on the planet and the biggest repository of photos on the Internet, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom isn't worried.
"I understand why someone like Facebook, where photos are core to their experience, would have things like filters," Systrom told the Guardian. "But the core experience is so different. We use asymmetric follows like Twitter, which is a really big differentiating point. My friends network doesn't necessarily take the best photos. The major reason why Instagram works is that you can follow anyone out there and start following their photos immediately. It's more of a press-cycle thing: it's been sensationalised beyond the reality of what the situation is."
In short, Systrom believes adding filters makes sense for Facebook, but that the social networking giant will not directly compete with Instagram. His company's free iPhone app lets you modify photos by applying filters to photos and then share them with your friends on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and other social services. Facebook's own apps will of course still be limited to just Facebook, Systrom points out.
Facebook reportedly tried to acquire Instagram over the summer, but because the deal didn't go through, Palo Alto started working on its own series of photo filters. The new feature has been supposedly ready for some time, but Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg asked for more filters to be created and added before release. Facebook is expected to introduce almost a dozen photo filters, including some that are similar to Instagram's old-style camera lenses and grainy film, as well as new styles of filters to set itself apart from other photo apps.
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