Instagram, from zero to a billion in a year…and what it means for us

The other day I came across the news that Facebook had bought Instagram for 1 billion dollars.

An app.

That is basically the photo version of Twitter.

Created just over a year ago.

With less than 20 employees.

And no income?!

All I can say is, “Wow!”

A single solitary app worth a billion dollars while just three short months ago, Kodak, a 100-year old company declared bankruptcy.

First, it was Angry Birds, now Instagram.

I think it’s fair to say that the opportunities that the iPhone/iPad present us with is extraordinary.

A friend of mine has a desktop computer, a laptop, an iPad and an iPhone and whenever their daughter wants to look something up for her schoolwork she reaches for…the iPad.

Why? It’s sooooo easy.

My 3-year old son has no trouble navigating though the iPhone searching for a game to play.

Even I’m sold. While I have a nice compact camera and 2 professional Nikon cameras…most of the time I simply whip out my iPhone and I’m ready to capture the moment, anywhere, anytime, with no heavy equipment.

Let’s face it, digital cameras are going to suffer. They already are.

While Nikon and Canon will always be around, how long will they be able to ward off the smartphone attack?

Instagram has succeeded in making photos fun, fast, easy to edit, and easy to share.

Is it worth a billion dollars?

Only time will tell…but with 6 billion mobile phones out there…that’s a heck of a lot of users.

What does this mean for us?

Around the end of the 20th century, Bill Gates was pondering his next move. Microsoft at the time was the biggest player in the market, but upstarts Yahoo had started to demand attention.

He took two weeks off and when he returned, he announced that he would not even consider listening to any idea unless it pertained to the Internet.

He could see that the Internet was going to change everything…and it turned out he was right, even if Microsoft hasn’t been able to shift Google from its perch.

Three years ago the battlefield changed again.

Now it’s all about mobility.

People want access to their email, photos, friends, podcasts, games, books, music…everywhere.

I still love my desktop for the heavy duty stuff such as writing posts or creating websites, but for the day to day stuff it’s a no-brainer.

The smartphone continues to change how we live.

How long before credit cards are simply apps?

A while back, I read the book Grunch of Giants by Buckminster Fuller. In it, he talks about how technology changes.

Technology goes in a cycle. First it’s created. Then we make it bigger. Then we make it smaller and more efficient. And finally it becomes invisible.

He talked about how airplanes changed the way we did business in the world. At first planes were only meant for one or two people, but once we saw the potential, they got them bigger and bigger allowing us to travel all over the world.

But with the price of oil surging due to demand companies were forced to develop more cost-efficient transportation.

Today we no longer need to travel miles to do business. The Internet has made it invisible and as Fuller said, when technology becomes invisible it moves at an incredible speed.

The story of Instagram is one of invisibility. No hardware. No wires. Just a box on a screen…a lot of screens…all over the world.

When I look at what’s being taught in school, I have to wonder why there isn’t more of a focus on encouraging creativity. Enough of this memorization stuff. Kids are bursting with imagination and need to be set free to explore it.

All it takes is one good idea and you’re set for life, as the creators of Instagram will attest to.

The future is here…and it’s apps.

Adrian Shepherd

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