Taxi Photo by chrisozer - Instagram

Facebook Camera App and Instagram

You can’t be everything to everyone.

“After the release of Facebook Camera, I’m even more convinced that Instagram could be Facebook’s YouTube — in other words, an acquisition that becomes monumentally important to its future, and helps it solve a problem it couldn’t solve on its own (like Google Video before Google bought YouTube.) Facebook Camera isn’t a bad application — it just isn’t good enough to compete with Instagram…”  -Mashable, Facebook Camera App: This Is Why Instagram Was Worth $1 Billion

Taxi Photo by chrisozer - Instagram
taxi photo by chrisozer - Instagram

People like Instagram because it is pure and focused. It is about communicating through visuals, shared interests, and seeing life through others’ eyes, especially strangers’ eyes. IG founded on photography of everyday objects with less focus on people. Facebook photos tend toward social life, usually posted with at least a subconscious intent of seeking attention or sharing one’s life: events, friends, parties, family, etc. Instagram allows anyone to make art out of food and buildings and flowers and hubcaps. No one wants to see that content clogging up their depressing Facebook stalking feed or wasting woo girl space (and there’s nothing wrong with that).Woo Girls Facebook photo

Instead of releasing Facebook Camera for iOS, Facebook should have already been working on fixing their horrible mobile experience (which they plan to post-IPO). Focusing on photos is practically a non-sequitur considering their fundamental mobile shortcomings.

Facebook should not try and own the iPhoneography culture that IG launched. Multi-photo uploads are nice but they should add this functionality to the gimcrack Facebook app instead of launching a separate photo app. This is cart before the horse. While Facebook Camera is useful for browsing friends’ photos, Instagram it is not.

Note: I have no problem with people not being artistic or pretentious on Instagram. But there’s a reason there are no #FBers, MeetUp groups, and Instawalks for Facebook.

P.S. A note about the power of words: Huffington Post published Facebook Camera: Company Launches iPhone Camera App on 5/24/12. They initially omitted a critical word, “acquistion,” from this sentence: “Facebook has said it expects the Instagram acquisition to close sometime this year.” Truth: Facebook has not announced that it will close Instagram. (Though I do see Facebook killing IG.) Thanks to Chad Thiele for posting about an issue much larger than my righteous indignation about photo sharing apps: carelessness in reporting that leads to misinterpretation of the truth.

  • Totally. Why would Facebook release its own camera system unless they intend to rebrand Instagram under it? And yes, I think that their FB needs some love…it’s a POS right now. They should fix their own stuff first before they go about inventing new things to mess up. 

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  • Bob, I agree that Facebook launched the photo-sharing culture, but I was saying that Instagram launched the iPhoneography culture, (as silly a term as that may be). I think a key difference between posting photos on Facebook and sharing them on Instagram is the user’s intention and the focus of the larger community. Granted, I only follow high quality IGers like yourself, and there are many who use Instagram as another outlet to post pretty regular people photos, perhaps slapping on an IG filter but not really investing in $5 photo editing apps. And you have users who do both. The IG search functions using hashtags and geo are also different and they link strangers in a controlled environment and more convenient way than muddling through Facebook album and friend privacy settings, let alone Facebook Places. Though that depends on the type of photos you post on Facebook and your own privacy concerns. Oh, and we all know about my favorite topic, the Instagram user base’s universal confusion over privacy. But I go back to the intention of the content being different.

    To sum it up, Facebook is a socially competitive, scrutinizing space like high school – a popularity contest. Instagram is the art kids in high school who are also competitive, but they’re competing over how cool their art is. This infographic sums it up pretty well:

    I bet your prediction about Facebook dividing and conquering mobile content will be spot on. Ah, and your Facebook Credits theory, of course! It could happen. We are seeing growth of NFC and mobile payment options. Adopting a new defacto currency based on digital properties would be a leap but it’s possible. If anything, Facebook Credits would have greater name recognition than Bitcoin. But Facebook has such low ratings for user trust; that would have to seriously improve. Or do you think trusting Credits would be separate from general trust in Facebook?

    Thanks for your comment, my brain feels like I just left a great session of chess club.