I admit it: I was one of the people cracking jokes when Instagram rolled out their Android app. I’ve always felt that Androids are clunky, large, and generally offensive devices, and I’m pretty sure most of the people using them live in their mom’s basement playing Dungeons and Dragons and eating Funyons. But really, I don’t care, and if I was Kevin or Mike I’d probably do it too.
Truthfully, this move won’t affect the quality of my Instagram experience. I’m mildly obsessed with the product, and have uploaded a few hundred pictures over the past few months. I feel I’ve tapped into a great community on there, some of which are overlaps from my twitter world while others are not. Before, only a handful of my “real life friends” were on there, but now with general adaptation of the product and the Android rollout it’s becoming the standard for photo sharing, only without your aunt seeing. This rollout has been a hot button issue on the internets, and I learned a few things from it.
1. People like exclusivity
People want to feel like early adapters, and want to socialize with fellow early adapters. Once a service goes mainstream (or lamestream) people want to broadcast “I was here first.” Hence the land grab for first name user handles (@mike, @andrew etc). In IG’s case, the depth of a user’s history and amount of shared photos will show who was there first, but over time it will become watered down and difficult to decipher. The outrage happened because people felt the service was no longer exclusive.
2. Instagram is blowing the f*ck up
30 million users and growing. $500 million valuation. Even un-tech savvy people on Facebook are opting to Instagram stuff instead of Muploading. I have no problem with this, but choose not to stream my photos onto Facebook. Wait, maybe I should delete my Facebook…
3. There is animosity between Android and iPhone users
I did not realize how much people identify with their phones as an extension of their personality. Search #Android on Instagram and you will see lots of arguments in picture and comment form. It goes something like this: iPhone users fancy themselves as upscale, stylish, minimalist, and connected. Android users fancy themselves as out-of-the-box, non-conformist, anti-fanboy, independent and “geek chic.” Or something. There’s also a layer of socio-economic turmoil within these arguments, but let’s not go there.
4. Every community has its own critical mass
Time will tell if this was the right move for IG, and I suspect it was. The reason we know IG is hitting critical mass is because people are posting photos without filtering them through to twitter and facebook. The community and platform stands on its own two. When I was at Estimize, we always said that we didn’t need a million users, just enough to make the data meaningful. If a community reaches critical mass and continues to grow until its bloated and watered down, it becomes obsolete. I hope this doesn’t happen like it did at Facebook, MySpace, and to an extent what it happening on Twitter.
That’s all. If you want to see pictures of my gluttenous culinary and life adventures in New York, follow me on Instagram at @m_knopf