By Elena Ostroumova
Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of the Instagram mobile application drew resentment from angry photo-sharing users. Many vowed to delete the app before the “corporate monster” gets a chance to trample on the creative community.
Twitter and other online platforms buzzed Wednesday with angry comments from disgruntled Instagram lovers, depicting Facebook as an “evil empire” gobbling up defenseless free spirits.
According to analysts at Crimson Hexagon, which studies social media content, just twelve per cent of 201,000 relevant Twitter mentions of the takeover were positive, reported AFP. Ten per cent registered “disgust” with Facebook and another 10 per cent promised to quit Instagram.
RT decided to ask followers of its Twitter feed what they think – the results seem very much in tune with this line.
Instagram devotees were critical even though Mark Zuckerberg vowed on his Facebook profile to develop the app independently.This means Instagram will not be exclusively integrated with Facebook, allowing photo sharing to rival social networks such as Foursquare.
“We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.”
Cashing in on 30 million users
Facebook is wildly popular and has the same basic mission as Instagram – encouraging people to build virtual networks through which to share their lives. But Instagram’s 30 million users are younger than the rapidly aging Facebook force, as more parents and grandparents are joining what is still the world’s leading social networking site.
Unlike Facebook, Instagram has no advertising (yet), and certainly no selling of users’ personal details to advertisers. Experts say, once Facebook invested into a company with no revenue it is bound to introduce something to start earning, and this generally translates into better monetization on mobile clients.
At present, millions of people use Facebook’s mobile app, but that brings no revenue whatsoever. Now ahead of Facebook’s upcoming IPO (initial public offering), it gets a network of 30 million users plus a mobile development team of 13 that can build more apps in the future.
Why the cold shoulder?
Then there is the issue of private data. Facebook analyzes interests and activities to bring you media and ads based on what it knows about you. As Robert Scoble writes on The Quora blog, Instagram adds some important new pieces of data to Facebook’s databases.
“If you are a skier, you take pictures of snow and skiing. If you are a foodie you take pictures of food at high-end restaurants. If you are into quilting, a lot of your photos will be of that. If you are into mountain biking, the same,” he writes. “Facebook’s databases need this info to optimize the media it will bring to you.”
And this information is worth a billion. For Instagram users, however, this feels like a sellout.
“Its ability to let its users delicately toe the line between public and private gave us a little breathing room from the all-pervasiveness of Facebook, and to see it whisked away feels like a tangible loss,” wrote Jenna Wortham on The New York Times tech blog.
A picture’s worth a billion dollars
It is not all doom and gloom, however: Instagram gathered a lot of support too, finally topping the most popular free apps leaderboard on App Store.
Users say Instagram has become the YouTube of mobile photography, the default way to use the camera on your iPhone or Android. So much so, that it took just 6 days for 5 million Android users to download the app once it became available for their platform on March 24.
This “defaultness” was what contributed to Google’s acquisition of video-sharing powerhouse YouTube back in 2006 for $1.65 billion. And being the default application for doing the most popular thing you can with a smartphone, is worth billions.