Several media outlets are reporting that Facebook has acquired Instagram for $1 billion. A good friend of mine must have been reading my mind when he tweeted the words “I may need to come up w/ an app.” After all, I’ve got bills to pay. In all seriousness, I haven’t really had the chance to use Instagram yet because I have a Blackberry. Nonetheless, this acquisition makes perfect sense to me because Facebook’s own capabilities for mobile photo sharing leave much to be desired. In order to maintain its position, Facebook needed to fortify this particular weakness and sometimes buying an existing solution is easier than coming up with a new one from scratch.
At this point, I am curious about whether or not this acquisition will lead Facebook to modify Instagram in ways that its current users will loathe. Until recently, Instagram was only available to people with iPhones and iPads. Within the past few weeks, an Android version of the app has been released as well. Facebook has a history of making changes that their users do not like. I still remember the reaction that many of my friends had in college when Facebook was first extended beyond the Ivy League. The loosening of restrictions that allowed anyone with an email address to use Facebook led a good portion of my colleagues to deactivate their accounts temporarily. Recently, Facebook users have been very resistant to its features surrounding instant personalization and facial recognition in pictures. Users have also been angry about the multiple changes to Facebook’s profiles including the new “Timeline,” which makes it possible to find information from any point in a user’s account history. Based on this trend, it is only a matter of time before Facebook does something that rubs Instagram users the wrong way. However, it’s not like Facebook has any reason to care. A viable “Facebook killer” has not appeared yet, and even if one does, Facebook or Google will just buy it out.