Facebook And Instagram, Sitting In A Tree
April 10, 2012
It is all over the news - Instagram was bought by Facebook for 1 Billion Dollars. That are a lot of zeros. And for every one of them I have seen at least 10 people predicting that Instagram will die and that they have to use something else.
There are several reasons behind this and I believe that nearly all of them are just from the experience people have with services that were bought. Let us take a short look what could happen and why it is possible that it just does not matter in this special case where Google is not involved.
When Twitter took over Posterous they stated that they were interested in the talent of the employees. In this case I have to admit I also believe that Posterous will be in trouble. If Twitter wants talent they want it for Twitter, not for another product. Not as long as they are not planning to extend Twitter into the region Posterous covers.
Instagram and Facebook work on completely different software stacks. Of course they learned a lot of stuff scaling Instagram and they have experience in a field and size most people do not but I believe Facebook would also find other people, with more knowledge of their stack, for far less money.
Buy And Die
I think we have seen this happen. Not only thanks to Google but other companies as well. They buy a hot start up and it just dies because they do not really have interest in the company or product, they just wanted to kill a competitor that was better and ahead in the field they try to conquer.
From my point of view Facebook and Instagram have a complete different target audience. You upload nearly everything you see to Instagram while you put personal content on Facebook. Of course you can also upload everything to Facebook - and if there is no Instagram it would be an option. But most people will not do this because they want to separate their personal and "all day" content.
I do not believe that this is one of those typical scenarios. There is too much money involved for this to just kill a competitor or buy some people that know how to scale a site.
According to interviews and press releases they plan to continue working on Instagram. They try to keep it a separate service with a better integration in various - not just Facebook - social networks. I love the idea. I can understand that people do not really believe it. History showed that other companies that release this information just plainly lie or do not know what they are talking about since they were likely drunk while writing the press release.
Facebook could be different. They know the value of ideas and start ups and they also have lived it. They have a lot more experience than most people that dominate boards. Of course I could be wrong, time will show.
Beside the typical complains that Instagram will go the way of a typical free as in beer start up there are privacy concerns now that Facebook bought them. The "big blue guys" are not well known for their ability to care about user data protection.
Before I say something to this point let me make three things clear.
- if your data is sensitive and you do not want that other people can see it just do not upload it - obvious, isn't it?
- ask yourself what Facebook would gain from photos of coffee and cars
- just because Facebook fucked up does not mean they are evil
Of course it is easy to flame Facebook, especially on your Google+ wall (maybe you notice something?), but taking a look behind everything that happened and understanding that they fucked up and tried to solve it is a little bit harder.
Beside that they do not really gain anything from the typical Instagram user and Instagram is just nothing I can connect with sensitive informations. But maybe I am using it wrong,...
What To Do?
Well pretty easy. If you hate Facebook just use something else. If you do not hate Facebook and do not plan on posting your newest work contracts continue using Instagram.
I was joking around that I could now write my own solution. This could be possible since I am working on a new CMS for hopelesscom. But time will show, currently I am still a happy Instagram and Facebook user.