Instagram’s lost Smartphone Secret.

15 Nov

21.000 Photos. That’s what takes the lion storage share on my iPhone. Ever since using the first generation iPhone, I keep on shooting and archiving like mad. It’s fair to say I’m quite a collector. (And yes, I have a hard time letting go – but that’s a different story.) Every once in a while a new iPhone app comes along that changes everything – for a year.

The first to spice up my iPhone photo experience was doubtlessly Hipstamatic. I got so obsessed with it, I constantly rode my iPhone to the 0 MB storage limit, making it crash all the time, creating absurd waiting situation to capture that one shot. That was so 2010.

Next up: Camera+. Supported by the onmipresent Lisa Bettany and her never-ending world trip, it was almost impossible not to get tempted by just another app. Nice new filters, this is for the retro lover in you. My current favorite photo app.

But then, there’s still Instagram. While I loved Hipstamatic’s play with lenses, it missed the social touch. No wonder, Hipstamatic is fighting for survival now that Facebook took over Instagram for a billion dollars at the time of the deal. (It shrinked to a good 700 million after the underwhelming IPO.)

Instagram’s appeal is easy to explain. It comes along with more simplicity than Hipstamatic or Camera+, but offers Twitter’s appeal of sharing your photos instanly. In the end, that’s what social is all about: Take a shot, get a like or even a comment. Unlike Facebook, you don’t have to friend people – everyone can follow you. And while even strangers might see your photos, the psychology is different. Instagram is like a little secret, your little smartphone secret.

That changed this spring with the acquisition by Facebook. Suddenly your Instagram shots appeared on your Facebook wall. Even the pictures you like appeared in your newsfeed if you approved. Heck, and now there’s even a web profile that looks like a clone of your Facebook Timeline.

While this doesn’t necessarily has to be Instagram’s kiss of death, a certain appeal is suddenly fading. In its simplicity Instagram has been the Anti-Facebook: One photo, that’s all. No need to explain. No need to represent. No need to be like Facebook. Now smartphone’s best kept secret has been passed on to the 1.0 web world. Was that really necessary?

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