Today, Facebook announced that it has acquired the hugely popular smartphone photo-sharing app, Instagram, for the tune of $1 billion “in a combination of cash and shares of Facebook.”
While Zuckerberg’s company plans to take over the team and service, Zuckerberg himself posted the following on his Facebook timeline, which suggests Instagram users will continue to enjoy some of the benefits they have grown accustomed to:
We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience. We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.
What we are seeing again and again is that when successful web startups start getting any kind of traction or buzz they are being bought up by one of the behemoths (Facebook, Google … ) and as the result the rest of us wait to see what will happen. (Does anyone remember Gowalla? How about Dropio? Picnik? Jaiku? Tweetdeck?) The Instagram acquisition is unusual for the number of users and the size of the brand. The parallels here may be more akin to Yahoo’s Flickr or Google’s YouTube.
We pointed out last month that Facebook is already the largest photo library in the world and with this acquisition they just got bigger. Shouldn’t we all be a little concerned that one service owns such a large chunk of our visual memory? Has Facebook become the defacto repository or “museum” of our visual culture?