Instagram for Android is only the first step

Mar 26, 2012
Tech
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iOS edition. These are all important questions Instagram faces as the company builds a business out of photo filters and syndication tools.

The real draw for Instagram has been its ease-of-use around its photo capture, adding filtered effects in real-time, creating hashtags, and posting images on Facebook and Twitter. But as a business, Instagram has quite a bit of maturing to do. The photo-sharing app has operated in a relatively walled garden since its initial release in late 2010, only now taking steps to expand its reach through platform integration. The Android edition will certainly broaden Instagram’s user base, but it’s not the only update Instagram has made.

Instagram needs to expand its reach and its business

The most recent partnership for Instagram is with Hipstamatic, opening up to a rival photo-sharing service to access another 4 million users. And while Instagram has no direct tie-ins with another rival, Facebook, third-parties are anxious to integrate the two, such as Vitrue’s latest Pages module which automatically pulls your Instagram photos into your Facebook timeline. In fact, Instagram faces rising competition from networks that are already endowed with features beyond photo-sharing, as Facebook added filters not too long ago.

That’s not all Instagram and Facebook have in common. Both social networks started as photo-sharing sites and had to find their own path to success, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom said during an interview at IGNITION West last week: “It’s about going through false starts… Brbn was a false start. The best companies in the world have all had predecessors. YouTube was a dating site. You always have to evolve into something else.”

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Instagram has done well to rack up nearly 30 million users to date, but the photo-sharing service will continue to evolve, and rightfully so. In order to become a true business Instagram will need to flesh out an ad network and more product integration to appeal to both brands and consumers alike. And while Android fans have been waiting for what seems an eternity for Instagram to hit Google Play, this is only the beginning of what Instagram is likely to become.

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