Facebook Camera vs. Instagram

What I think happened: It was clear soon after Instagram launched that it was a hit, and Facebook was savvy enough to realize that an integral part of Instagram’s appeal was that it came in the form of a well-designed, well-engineered native iPhone app. Not just Instagram, either — I think Zuckerberg saw that for mobile, the HTML/CSS/JavaScript web is not enough. Native apps are essential, thus the talent acquisitions of superstar outfits like Sofa and Push Pop Press. I bet Facebook has more native mobile apps on the way.

So the Sofa team got to Facebook a little under a year ago, and I’m guessing, soon started work on Facebook Camera. A year ago, building a Facebook version of Instagram sounded like a good plan. “We should have an app like Instagram for taking and sharing photos on our social network”, more or less. But after another year of growth, I think Mark Zuckerberg saw that an app was not enough. Instagram’s own fast-growing social network was a threat. That their own well-made, well-designed Instagram-like app was on the cusp of release made no difference.

Yahoo had a chance to buy Google in 2001 but then-CEO Terry Semel didn’t pull the trigger. I don’t think Instagram is the next Google, but Zuckerberg sure as shit doesn’t want Facebook to be the next Yahoo.

Friday, 25 May 2012