Mark Zuckerberg just announced that Facebook has agreed to buy mega-popular photo sharing service Instagram for $1 billion. Facebook's been on a buying spree of late, and has been beefing up its own already-ubiquitous photo sharing service lately as well. But it looks like it just landed a whale.
Facebook is already one of the biggest photo sharing destinations on the web. Everyone's on Facebook, and so are all their pictures. But Instagram isn't just another photo sharing service; it's basically everyone's favorite little social network. And unlike Twitter, the last little social network that didn't stay little, Facebook's nipping Instagram in the bud before it takes on a life of its own.
How fast has Instagram grown? It's got 30 million users despite having been iOS-only until recently. And it just expanded its API to include uploads from competitors like Hipstamatic. If everyone you know wasn't on it before, they were going to be soon. In fact, after this deal goes through, they definitely will be.
An acquisition of this magnitude certainly comes as a surprise, but maybe it shouldn't have been a total one. We've been hearing rumblings about Facebook working on an iPhone-based photo-sharing Instagram competitor for almost a year now. At a certain point, if you can't beat 'em, you buy 'em.
Facebook's impending IPO probably didn't have much to do with its ability to purchase Instagram—it already had globs of cash—but might shade how it uses Instagram going forward. Meaning, it'll have public investors to appease, so it's going to need to justify spending a ton of money. That means monetization, probably in the form of aggressive APIs, which Instagram was already jumping into. Zuck's announcement post says Facebook is "committed to building and growing Instagram independently," so it's just a matter of seeing whether or not that happens.
Either way, we'd say hold off on the doomsaying for Instagram's future as a smart and beautiful way to store and share your photos. We've actually quite liked Facebook's recent additions—Timeline and its new Photo Viewer—so at least wait and see what happens. And for those of you worrying how this will affect your Twitter account? It won't, according to Zuck. At least for the time being, Facebook is going to continue to develop Instagram "independently," and will keep allowing uploads to third-party services.
We'll fill you in on the details as we know more, but for now, here's the full announcement from his FB page:
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