Facebook has purchased Instagram, the mobile-photo sharing application, for $1 billion and Facebook stock. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg now owns one of the hottest apps on the market, a 2-year old photo sharing service known for its artistic filters and convenient path to sharing photos with friends. But what does this deal mean for Facebook and for mobile marketers
Since its debut in 2010, Instagram has grown into a force, with 31 million active users sharing photos through the app, according to the AP. While its main focus is on photos, some feel that the app posed a threat to Facebook itself. So, from a purely competitive perspective, Facebook has eliminated a potential rival. For Facebook, the acquisition also solves part of the platform’s mobile problem. It now has a ready-made solution to photo sharing on mobile devices. And it has added a team, albeit a small one, of dedicated mobile designers through the acquire-hire. It does raise a question as to how Facebook plans to approach mobile in the future. Will it be through dedicated apps, with Facebook serving as a desktop client? Or will it be by integrating Instagram’s features into Facebook mobile? Either way, Facebook has made a move that immediately improves its mobile presence.
Facebook is beginning to map-out its mobile presence and, just like its rise-and-rise as an ad-serving platform on the desktop, we’re likely to see its role as a mobile ad product increase too. Instagram, with its active mobile user base, may be a perfect testing ground for Facebook to enter into mobile targeting efforts. Or, conversely, information garnered from the mobile sharing of photos on Facebook may allow marketers to better understand the habits of Facebook users and serve them better ads when they return to their desktops. But the integration of these two new partners is still very much in the early stages, and these benefits are not likely to be sorted out for some time.