99 times out of 100 I agree with Gizmodo. Their writing, insights and thought leadership are usually spot on. But, in a recent article titled, “Cut It Out Instagram Cheaters!” they’re definitely not seeing the forest for the trees. Nearly 2 years ago I wrote the following regarding Twitter’s business model:
“The problem with Twitter remains it has never innovated. All of the innovation has come through acquisition (eg Summize) or by third party products (eg Tweetdeck). For a company focused on the real time web, they certainly are quite glacial in their innovation. I think people will become bored by Twitter. Well, many people are, as evident by the fact 60% of people who create an account post once and never come back. 1 Billion? I just don’t see it.”
Fast forward to today and I was spot on.
- Twitter acquired Tweetdeck and Atebits to improve the app based twitter experience
- While the number of new accounts has increased, my 60/40 ratio has held true and actually gotten worse for twitter
- Google+ launched and has already siphoned off a large portion of twitter’s base
Instagram does not have a web-upload option. It barely has a website. It’s entirely mobile, and photos can only be sought-out through the app. Sure, each photo generates its own URL, but you can only get that URL if the photo is posted on another service like Facebook.
Given the overall tone of this post, you’d think I wasn’t a fan of Instagram. Quite the contrary, I LOVE Instagram. I’ve recommended Instagram to and/or helped signup no less than 50 people. I even tried to pitch Instragram on partnering with us at Walgreens…they declined, indicated they were not doing partnerships, and referred me to their API documentation. Bummer.
I think they’ve built a great mobile app. But, that’s what it is right now…an app. Not a platform. Not a network. An app. So long as it remains just an app with an API, the innovation will come from other hungrier and more innovative developers. For example:
Postagram: Let’s you create postcards out of your Instagram photos.
Blurb: Let’s you create keepsake books from your Instagram photos.
I think what Mat is really frustrated over though are the clones/competitors that are popping up and creating Instagram like tools that aren’t built on the Instagram API and not germain to the “Insta” nature of Instagram. For example Daniel Box’s GREAT Photoshop Actionsthat let you recreate the Instagram experience without ever using their app.
This photo, for example was taken on a DSLR (Nikon D700) and then processed using Daniel’s Photoshop Action. I chose the Earlybird filter.
I think this type of innovation is a good thing. Remember, Smartphones are still less than 40% of the market and on top of that Instagram ONLY works on the iPhone.
As Mat says in his article, “There is obviously no right way to Instagram. You use it for what you use it for.” So long as Instagram continues to take a snail’s speed approach to innovation, other developers will bring to market features that fill in the gaps Instagram is creating. I’m actually bummed by it all. I love Instagram. As an avid photographer I can see so much potential. It’s disheartening to see them act more like IBM and less like a startup. Instagram by design is supposed to be social, yet how they use social media to improve the product is decidedly unsocial.