I'd heard of Instagram, but wasn't a user.
Listening to all the fan love in the last while following the Facebook purchase makes me wish I'd been there, though.
The commentary makes interesting reading, and not just for what it says about Instagram, but also how Facebook is clearly becoming a big brother figure.
Facebook becoming a walled garden
David Meerman Scott on WebInkNow suggests that Facebook is following the long-discredited "walled garden" approach of the former AOL et al.
It seems to me that the big social players – Google, Facebook, and Twitter – are building walled gardens around their users in the exact same way that portals like Lycos, Excite, AOL, and Yahoo did a decade ago.
Ann Handley on MarketingProfs observes that Instagram is a service many value enough to pay for, but Facebook is not.
To its fans, Instagram is a social network that many value enough to potentially pay to access. Yet it was purchased by a network many would never pay to access. And that, I suppose, is the nature of irony.
I loved her analogy that this announcement is like hearing your best friend is engaged to a jerk
She might be thrilled. But you can’t help but feel a sense of doom about the whole arrangement.
Definition of passionate engagement: great mobile design
If you have ever wondered what genuine consumer passion looks like, check out what Instagram's users are saying about it. People love the simplicity, the creativity, the empowerment, the fun. This is what great mobile apps must do.
Is Facebook really the inevitable end?
Facebook does seem to have tremendous momentum, to state the totally obvious. But so have others. Remember Ning? I remember seeing it getting cover stories in business magazines, and wondering if that was the inevitable peak. Such as this breathless story in FastCompany, describing Ning as "a perpetual growth machine."
When Facebook said it would go public, it seemed inevitable it would become more and more driven by the usual obsessive need for stock price growth, and would become less and less oriented to the needs of individual users, and more and more oriented to the revenue stream.
AOL was supposed to take over the world, too. [You can probably add lots of great examples here -- please do.]
My own hope is that the flattening of power that new communications technologies have enabled will continue to result in a democratization of access, and make it difficult for any operation to really become a big brother. In other words, you can build the walls all you want, but you can't really stop the users from going out the gate, because it is really the garden of Eden out there, filled with richness and adventure, and that is magnetic to our natural human curiosity.