I've been watching Instagram for the last year with great interest. It's growth has been spectacular and all from one app on iOS. They are about to pass 15 million users and have according to this superb article become the mobile social network with the most users. We have written about it becoming much more than a photo sharing mobile app in the past and if they keep this current growth rate up things could get very interesting for them. The company is very lightweight (until recently they only had 4 staff) and the community is incredibly passionate. The smartest thing they have done is leverage the likes of Twitter and Facebook to bring them traffic and users rather than trying to tackle them head on at their own game.
What They Are Doing Right
If you disregard the big guys like Facebook and Twitter Instagram is the main social network on your mobile. While Foursquare has had all the hype for the last two years it is Instagram that has actually just taken the lead. It does help that Instagram is non commercially minded yet (they have some brand accounts but nothing major) and the main thing that they do brilliantly is constantly updating and improving the app on a near weekly basis. Their focus has been outstanding because instead of focusing on every platform that comes along they have stuck to one (iOS) and done it really really well.
Image from here
What Can Instagram Grow In To?
You can see them getting to 20 million users pretty quickly, probably by the end of Q1 2012. Now imagine they launched an Android app as well (which they will) and they will quickly double that user base given the size of the Android platform. That would give them close to 50 million users and the growth shows no sign of slowing down yet. A service with 50 million users this time next year makes them a very serious player in the social mobile space. Facebook and Google have been rumored to have been trying to acquire Instagram over the last year but if they are smart they will keep riding the growth wave as the best is yet to come. People love sharing photos and that is exactly how Facebook built their user base at the very start and who knows how far Instagram could actually go but the signs certainly look very good right now.
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