Instagram has over 50 million users and was acquired for $1 billion, but it did all of these things without even having a website. You could view a link to all the photos on the site, but that was about it. Last night, it started rolling out a vastly improved web presence (have a look here) that allows users to log in, like and comment on photos and edit your profile. By no means is it a full social network, but it is a great start and it shows the direction it's heading.
It is also worth noting the blue branding that is starting to push the service in the same direction as its new owner Facebook. The two sites don't look massively different now and this is clearly the first step towards them both merging. Here is a quick run through of what you can do on the new Instagram web presence.
You never used to be able to log in on the old Instagram, but the new site lets you do so in the same way as you would log in to the likes of Facebook. You will need to log in to complete any of the further actions.
Once you have logged in, you can head over to your profile and start editing your information. This is the one area that will surely expand as it looks for even more information from us all.
Once logged in, you are now able to follow users that you see on the site to increase the amount of photos that you see in your feed.
Like And Comment
The two main features that have driven so much interaction via the mobile app are also here on the website once you log in. You can like or comment on any of the photos as well as scanning through the likes and comments of others.
There are a large amount of new third party apps and services that you will probably have signed up to and you now have one central place to see who has access to your account.
This Is Stage One
Although the site is a great start and some of the functionality that you would expect is there, you get the feeling this is only the start of what they are trying to achieve. This will become a fully fledged social network in exactly the same style as Facebook itself. Expect updates over the coming weeks and more of a merge with the mothership Facebook. It's been a long time coming, but this is a great start for Instagram in cementing a presence on the web.