What’s The Future of Instagram?

Monday held some big news, as it was announced that Instagram is going to be acquired by Facebook for $1 billion. There were many mixed feelings on this move by the photo sharing service. Some felt that it was unfair to see their precious network disappear into another one, but others — namely users of Facebook — felt that such a purchase would enhance their photo sharing experience. The latter is probably correct, but there’s more to it than that.

Facebook’s main goal of this purchase is to gain users. Just think about it: Facebook is a service that relies on the number of users who frequently visit. When that number begins to diminish, they search for a way to get new users. This acquisition — that’s right, $1 billion for users — is the answer to that problem. Keep reading for a look at what could happen to Instagram.

Is It the Filters or the Community?

There are millions of users who think that Instagram was all about the filters, which is wrong — it was about the networking. Sure, filters helped, but I don’t really think they’re the whole picture. I’m a photographer, and I have to say that I’ve always disliked Instagram because there are a limited number of effects. They get old quickly and if you’ve ever used the network you’ll understand what I mean.

Facebook probably wanted to purchase Instagram because people seem to like the effects and the app itself is great. They could gain the talent that the app’s design team has and use it to make their own mobile apps even better. That’s not all Instagram had though — there was also a community that was constantly growing and this is what likely appealed most to Facebook.

You see, even though you’d think that Facebook purchases little startups for the sake of warding off competition, this isn’t it at all. They saw the potential users that were out there forming a thriving community of people who love to share photos. Facebook right now is the largest sharing website on the Internet, even at photos. So why not expand things a bit and improve the quality of their photo sharing feature?

Typical Instagram shots.

Typical Instagram shots.

I think the main goal of Instagram has always been to let users share photos quickly with some added flare, if you will. Facebook is going to use this — some believe — in their own standalone photo app that is coming soon to the iPhone. That’s just a rumor, but it would make a lot os sense and also put some reasoning behind this acquisition.

Sadly, with Apple’s release of iOS 5 and 5.1, it became far easier to share photos using the Camera app since there was now integration of Twitter,Facebook’s chief competitor. For some reason, Apple left them out of the sharing picture. Many, including myself, believe it was for simplicity purposes. After all, Twitter is much simpler than Facebook when it comes to nearly everything. Whatever the reason, Facebook is looking for a better way to let users share their photos on a mobile phone and Instagram must have filled this need, so they bought it.

Now What’s Going To Happen?

If you ever cared about Instagram and don’t like Facebook, then you’re main question on this acquisition is probably “What’s the future here?” Well, Facebook has a way of integrating ads into their products, and even though Matthew Panzarino of The Next Web argues that they likely won’t, I think they will. If you know anything about Facebook, it’s that they love to advertise and make money (How else are things supposed to keep running anyway?).

I think that eventually Instagram will require a Facebook account to use the service, because that way Facebook gets more users. This really makes sense because, even in the instance of their partnership with Spotify, the service no longer accepts new accounts except for those created through a Facebook connection. This isn’t the right way to do things, in my opinion. They just shouldn’t be forcing people to create a Facebook account just to use their service.

 

What if this happens to Instagram? Currently, Instagram doesn’t require any account at all to browse some photos in their app (it’s a bit limited, but at least you can browse), but this could all change very soon. Facebook is probably going to use the effects that Instagram currently has on their website as an option for any users who wish to make their photos “better.” I really hope this isn’t something they put too much emphasis on though, because they have a way of sticking things right in your face every time you visit the site.

Facebook claims that they won’t be drastically changing anything, but are they to be trusted? If you’ve ever used their mobile apps, you’ll know that they are really terrible at keeping them stable. Their iPhone and iPad apps, for instance, are rubbish. They either crash all the time, lag throughout many processes, or lack features that they should have. I’m not saying that Facebook is going to ruin Instagram, but rather that they will take some of the features and developments that have been made and integrate them into their own app. This could be good, but only the future will tell what happens.

What Do You Think?

You’ve read my thoughts on this acquisition and what I think the future for this service may hold, so now what do you think? Is Instagram ruined forever or will Facebook only improve it?