Facebook makes a smart move with Instagram

0412_Instagram_PRESS

The Associated Press

Instagram is demonstrated on an iPhone Monday, April 9, 2012, in New York. Facebook is spending $1 billion to buy the photo-sharing company Instagram in the social network’s largest acquisition ever. Instagram lets people apply filters to photos they snap with their mobile devices and share them with friends and strangers.

Simon Chun

Facebook acquired the mobile application Instagram for $1 billion Monday. Instagram is an app for the iPhone (and recently for Android phones) that allows users to take pictures with various filtering options to give pictures an old, vintage look, whether it be like a faded portrait or a simple black-and-white image.

However, Instagram is not about just creating art, but also about sharing images with friends.

“Instagram is a very personal social network, and one that’s less about posting frequently or sharing details of your life [than Facebook],” said Omar Gallaga, technology reporter for the Austin American-Statesman.

Part of Instagram’s appeal is its user-friendliness and simplicity. Users don’t have to open an extra app to access the camera, or shuffle through multiple tabs. Users can take a picture within the application, choose from over a dozen filters and share it with friends on networks such as Facebook with only a few taps on the phone’s screen.

“For me, Facebook is the easiest way for me to let my friends know what I’m up to, just because everyone’s already on it. I use it to share articles that I like, to interact with my friends’ updates, and of course to hold my Instagram photos,” said Annie Wang, co-founder of Her Campus online magazine and an avid Instagram and Facebook user.

So why is Facebook interested in an app that’s available for smartphones for free? Simply put, it’s the app’s appeal. Instagram currently has more than 30 million users and they’re enjoying the benefits of taking pictures with style. Facebook saw its massive popularity and acquired it since it’s a natural fit, as many users of both Fackbook and Instagram already use the two services in conjuction, and lots of shots from Instagram end up on Facebook anyway.

“With so much capital, I’m not surprised that Facebook made this acquisition,” said Joshua Lee, student associate at the Learning Technology Center and government junior. “Mark Zuckerberg has been nothing short of an economic genius in terms of expanding Facebook and incorporating other major companies into the Facebook interface, namely Skype for video calling and Zynga for their game platforms.”

However, it seems that Instagram’s acquisition will not bring is not a complete integration into Facebook. The relationship between the two companies will be exclusive, working as more of a partnership, and it seems that both will work on improving their products alongside one another.

“We’ll be working with Facebook to evolve Instagram and build the network,” Kevin Systrom, CEO of Instagram, said in a statement Monday. “We’ll continue to add new features to the product and find new ways to create a better mobile photos experience.”

For users of the service, this deal means that data from both services will be accessible from one central source, making it easier for users to organize their social networks. The buyout will allow both Facebook and Instgram to benefit from each others’ strengths; while Instagram is focused on capturing pictures and filtering them, Facebook is all about social networking and improving the dozens of features it has.

“I personally already use Instagram and Facebook together, and have found that each is strengthened by the other,” Wang said. “I think the acquisition is an example of the effect of consumer inclination toward communication via central hubs, rather than through disparate channels.”

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Instagram won’t eventually be fully integrated into Facebook.

“It probably won’t be noticeable at first, but over time I imagine some of the tools and filters that are familiar to Instagram users will end up as part of Facebook’s photo tools,” Gallaga said. “Facebook’s mobile apps will probably incorporate or work with Instagram somehow as well.”

Facebook’s Instagram buyout means that Instagram will enjoy the benefits of Facebook’s social networking abilities more than ever before. Simultaneously, Facebook will have their own picture taking features improved and further innovate on the foundation that Instagram has created. This partnership will lead social networking and the applications that we can use for it to a more streamlined way to share our lives online.

Printed on Thursday, April 12, 2012 as: Facebook buys out Instagram, both expected to benefit