The most popular photo sharing application in the world might overpower Facebook in sheer numbers. Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion and that well might have been their best investment yet. Its user base has nearly tripled in a little over one year. One can only imagine the possibilities for this diverse, social networking hot spot. Back when Facebook battled Twitter over the ownership of Instagram, which turned out to be a high-stakes winner takes all bidding war, they had not anticipated the photo-sharing application to catch on so quickly and so effectively.
Instagram reached 100 million users earlier this year, triple its user base since Facebook purchased Instagram. “By definition, if it keeps growing at this rate, yes, it will be bigger,” said Instagram cofounder and CEO Kevin Systrom who talked to Fast Company. “It will be the biggest thing in the world.”
Because Facebook and Instagram are brothers many are wondering “what’s the difference?” Ford insn’t going to be upset that one model of car sold better than another, at the end of the day the money is going into the same pot. But some within the organization have a vested interest in Facebook’s continued international success, but also point out that both Instagram and Facebook can grow to no end.
Studies of user base are weary about declaring that Instagram has surpassed Vine, Twitters video-sharing service, but the numbers are close. Co-founders of Instagram are confident that its user base will surpass Vine by the end of this year.
When outsiders took a closer look at Instagram and Facebook it became evident they were investing in an all eggs in one basket approach to the dual-success of the social networking sites. As Instagram cofounder Mike Krieger put it, perhaps more diplomatically than others within the company when asked whether Instagram will outgrow Facebook: “I don’t know–that’s a good question. I think both of them are basically limitless in size, so maybe one day they’ll be the same size?”
What’s key to Facebook is that Instagram is keeping a key user base alive. That same user base follows, uses and embraces new technology and new technological capabilities. Early adopters are not hard to find among social media users and that is why such an exponential rise in Instagram users is expected. Some are calling the expectations from Instagram’s executives a bit cocky. But those same executives point to an uncontrollable factor in social media; that once something catches on it spreads like wildfire.