Facebook has just announced that it is will be acquiring the massively popular photo-sharing app Instagram for nearly $1 billion. Instagram has gone from strength to strength since its release a couple of years back, and has already amassed nearly 30 million users. Its Android app hit the 1 million downloads milestone within just 12 hours of its release.
Facebook has a disheartening record as far as acquisitions go. Almost all of its previous acquisitions have been talent acquisitions, and even popular products like Friendfeed stagnated under Zuckerberg’s watch. More recently, Facebook acquired Gowalla, only to shut it down a few weeks later.
Thankfully, Zuckerberg has opted to follow a different strategy with Instagram. The Instagram team will operate with autonomy within Facebook’s umbrella. While Instagram will get the opportunity to leverage Facebook’s strong engineering team and infrastructure, Facebook might also integrate several of Instagram’s features into its own app. “We’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently”, affirmed Zuckerberg. He also vouched to retain “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”.
Facebook already had a massively popular photo-sharing feature. However, what it lacked was a simple app focused on just photography. If Facebook can manage to leverage Instagram’s assets without destroying its appeal, then the acquisition should prove to be immensely beneficial for both parties. The combined might of Facebook and Instagram will undoubtedly give a hard time to the Google Plus and Picasa combo.