No filter: Ologists on Facebook’s Instagram acquisition

April 13, 2012  

When Facebook bought photo-sharing company Instagram on Monday, reactions ranged from excited fist pumps to apocalyptic predictions. We grabbed several Ologists and asked them to duke it out over the pros and cons. Here’s what they had to say:

Collin Simula
Senior Designer
@csimula

 

 

So Facebook bought Instagram. Now not only are mustache-sporting amateur photographers everywhere (we’ll call them “hipsters”) worried about even more uncool people clouding up their feed (read: Android users), but millions are yelling “sellout!” at poor Instagram. Seriously? If Facebook offered you $1 billion for your simple and well-designed app, you can’t tell me that you wouldn’t “sell out” before you could say the word “hipster.”

Oh, and let’s not mention the fact that no one has ever paid anything for the app. They are just using borrowed server space. Instagram users should be praising this amazing app success story, which they contributed to! I mean, seriously, coming up with an application so successful that Zuck himself wanted to buy it? That’s a one-in-a-billion chance.

And if you’re someone who thinks that Facebook is going to ruin the application by adding whatever stuff they add into apps, read beyond the headlines. Press releases from both companies say that Instagram will still be operating independently.

 

Mike Sawicki
Web Developer
@msawicki

 

 

This deal is different from previous acquisitions, like Gowalla and FriendFeed. Why? For one, Instagram is already insanely popular. In fact, this is the first time Facebook has acquired a company with an existing user base of this size (over 30 million). Instagram was downloaded more than 5 million times in its first six days on the Android marketplace and has skyrocketed to the number-one spot in the iOS App Store in the days following Monday’s announcement.  

I understand the concern. Few companies that are bought out by larger corporations continue to flourish. But remember in 2006 when Google acquired a little company called YouTube? Let’s face it: Instagram’s growth has been a painful one. Android users had to wait over a year to share sepia-toned photos of mustaches with their friends. Like YouTube with Google, think of all the resources from Facebook that are now at the disposal of Instagram.

The folks at Facebook are not stupid. You don’t throw $1 billion at an app to shut it down or run it into the ground. They recognize its potential and the importance of photo sharing. My gut tells me they are only going to improve upon an already great application.

Erin Burk
Associate Strategy Director
@eherlburk

 

 

It’s true. I love Instagram. I love it more than any other app on my iPhone. I check it a lot—maybe obsessively—just to see if anyone’s shared a new, beautifully stylized photo to fuel my vicarious escape. I check it first thing in the morning to see what my friends were up to while I was sleeping. I capture and share photos of my favorite little moments and my life’s adventures.

The beauty of Instagram is that it is all about functionality and a fun user experience. Loyal users, like me, are protective of the simplicity and privacy we have always enjoyed.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that I side with the over-reactors who have been threatening to just drop Instagram like a bad habit. I’m too loyal for that. But that doesn’t mean I’m not wary of the inevitable changes that will occur.

On his Facebook page, Mark Zuckerberg stated, “Our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.” This inevitable surge in users is exactly why I cringe. Sure, Instagram is already a top app that I recommend to my friends, but the fact that it was still a small community is exactly why I’ve been such an advocate. I revel in the joy I get from seeing little snapshots from the adventures of my closest friends (and favorite inspirational users), or the heartfelt images that my people are more inclined to share—because they know it’s not going to be shared far and wide and to their 864 friends on Facebook.

It’s hard to accept the fact that this large money-making beast, Facebook, is taking over the small, extremely successful start-up that has built a loyal user base without profit from advertising or sales. Melissa Parrish of Forrester explained, “Facebook is well-known for selling advertising and supporting marketer participation on its platform.” TechCrunch predicts that Facebook will bring its seamless tagging ability to Instagram so users can tag a whole gang of friends in their photos. And who doesn’t wholeheartedly anticipate that Facebook will use Instagram to gather data about its users? It’s only a matter of time.

Facebook also has a history of stifling and squashing the companies it acquires. What about Gowalla? While the once-promising location-based app’s user base wasn’t as strong as Instagram’s, it did have about 1 million users when it was acquired by Facebook—and now it only exists as a figment of our imaginations.

You can be assured that my every finger is crossed and my heart is pulling for Instagram’s individuality and functionality to be maintained through this devastating acquisition. Until we know more, I’ll keep lovingly “liking” pics and sharing my own along the way.