The most paradisiacal places, the tastiest food, the coolest parties. On Instagram, which celebrated its tenth birthday last October, everyone is living the good life. What has the hugely popular photo app brought to the world?
It’s one of those modern Silicon Valley fairytales: Inspired by his love of whiskey, 27-year-old Kevin Systrom wrote the app in his spare time, allowing users to check in at locations online to share their plans.
When Systrom discovered that people used his app almost exclusively for photos, he changed course. He brought in Mike Krieger, a college friend from Stanford, and studied all the popular photography apps and social networks. Hipstamatic in particular caught their attention: the app had all kinds of cool photo filters, just no option to share photos. Facebook did take pictures, but image was not central.
October, 2010, Instagram went live in the Apple’s app store. The service was still very limited at the time: there were only a few basic filters, photos were cut out square by default. On the first day, the app was instantly downloaded 25,000 times, 100,000 times within a week. Even before the end of the year, Instagram recorded the millionth user. The iPhone 4, which was released almost simultaneously, provided an extra boost, which had a much better camera than the older model.
The rest is history. In 2012, Facebook bought Instagram for a billion dollars and the app became available to Android users as well. In 2020 there are 1.1 billion users. There is no model, celebrity, athlete, politician, foodie that cannot be found on Instagram.
Many experts state that Instagram owes its great success to its simplicity.
Despite all the benefits of Instagram, Instagram is also receiving criticism. Several studies show that the endless stream of photos of paradise beaches, private jets and tanned bodies can lead to insecurity and mental complaints, especially among young people. The medium would thus propagate superficiality.
The social network did not hesitate to steal from the competition. For example, Instagram Stories was a direct copy of the Stories of competitor Snapchat.
In the early years of Instagram there could not be advertised on Instagram, this forced companies to contact popular Instagrammers. It turns out that it works better if a famous person says positive things about your product than if a company itself does. Hence the ever growing influencer market.