The technology news out today is bigtime: Instagram is being bought by Facebook for $1 billion in cash and stock, the Big Man announced today. It’s a development that has people (including us) wincing at what could become of the fun and simple photo-sharing service for iPhone and, as of last week, Android.
We wince only because Facebook and big companies before it have consistently proven their wonderful ability to run the companies they buy into the ground or shut them down and integrate the technologies into their own platforms.
But should we expect the same this go-’round?
This acquisition is the most notable one in the world of social media since Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion, and YouTube is still around much like it was before the acquisition: independent and potentially even better than before, just part of the Google family of products.
We’d hope (and it would seem) that the Facebook-Instagram deal mirrors that of Google-YouTube. According to the post on Zuckerberg’s page, the company understands that it can destroy Instagram if it’s not careful:
“…we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook. That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.”
So, to that end, some thoughts on what could become of both sides:
- Instagram isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Facebook is well aware that it has the ability and power to stupidly ruin a good thing, and it doesn’t want to do that. Instagram founder Kevin Systrom reiterates this message, too.
- Facebook users will probably get Instagram filters and better editing features at some point, so prepare to see more pictures of your friend’s kids, only with various filters and blurry parts.
- This could mean the first real domino in Facebook rolling out tags for photos, giving the standardization of tagging huge legs for the future.
- You have to wonder if the Instagram “Heart” will become a Facebook “Thumbs up.”
- Facebook is already the No. 1 photo upload site on the Internet, and this purchase will only strengthen its position there over rivals such as Google+. This could potentially hurt Twitter, too, though Instagram allows for sharing on that site and will continue to do so. Too early to tell.
- It could also mean a death blow to Flickr, which, while popular with photographers, you hear less and less of over time. It’s just not as social and doesn’t have the traffic or mobile friendliness. (And there are other services besides Flickr, as well.)
- It’s likely any real significant development from this won’t be visible for a year or more, but you may see some early tweaks to image sharing on both sides in the first six months.
More than likely, the most notable change to Instagram will be for the founders themselves, who are joining Facebook under terms of the deal: After two years out on their own, they now have bosses.