Facebook buys Instagram: It's not about the photos or filters

Facebook buys Instagram: It's not about the photos or filters

Summary: Facebook's move to nab Instagram has little to do with filters and everything to do with mobile.


Facebook's aquistion of Instagram, is, um, big news.

But despite some fears and speculation about the move, Facebook's Instagram deal isn't at all about nabbing the app's impressive and oddly-named set of hip vintage filters or even the photos those filters were used on. It's about buying the community that Instagram is intimately linked to, and all the data surrounding it.

Zuckerberg said it himself in the Facebook post making the announcement:

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 [Emp. added]. We don't plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.

By the last official count, Instagram had 30 million users on the iPhone. That number jumped up by a million when Instragram launched its Android app. Millions of users taking, sharing, and liking photos -- is it any wonder why Facebook was so interested in the app, which is as mobile as mobile apps get?

The Instagram deal gives Facebook access to a whole new set of data points. If nothing else, Facebook's acquisition of Instragram gives it access to more information on when, where, and how people take and share photos on their phones -- valuable information in an increasingly-mobile digital world.

The mobile aspect here cannot be understated. When Facebook announced its IPO in February, one of the big questions centered on how the company planned to counter its "mobile problem", i.e. its inability to replicate its web-based success in the mobile space. With Instagram, Facebook may have found a part of its solution.

Topic: Social Enterprise

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  • Let the facial recognition begin!

    Data, indeed. How long do you think it'll be before Facebook performs facial recognition on all the images on Instagram's servers, matching people up with tagged pics on Facebook (whether they wanted to be tagged or not)? I bet the answer is in days.
    • -_-

      That never actually happens on Facebook. I remember long ago there were fears and even outbursts against that happening...which is odd because it was somethign that never happened to begin with.
      • It does happen, of course it happens

        That's just it, it DOES happen, whether you can see it on Facebook or not. Do you really think they'd pass up a chance to determine who all of Instagram's users take pictures of? You haven't been paying attention.
  • What?

    I still don't understand the appeal of Instagram.
    • I agree....

      I don't get it at all... that makes many of us I can assure you.
    • It...

      It allows you to take a pic with your cell phone, fancy it up with filters, and post it to Facebook or Twitter easily.
      • In other words, nothing important then.

  • Remember...

    If you aren't paying, then you are the product :)
  • It wont help Facebook....much.

    Facebook's mobile problem is that Facebook is a community that has a popularity rooted in details. Not fantastic in deapth details but significant enough details that requires some large amounts of small print. Much of it is garbage you have to be able to scan through quickly to find something you want to work with or not.

    Pictures galore, sure, but on a smartphone scads of tiny pics are not easy to scan through. Facebook applications and games are big too, but hows that going to work for mobile? Bottom line is that Facebook is inherently a desktop/laptop platform to get much out of it. Spending much time on Facebook in a mobile environment could get grueling for sure. The Facebook App only makes it a bit easier, but it tends to kill the bigger screen Facebook experience, and that is what sells the Facebook idea.

    How much help does a picture app provide? Not much compared to what the overall loss in Facebook experience is on a smartphone.