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In the news - Facebook buys Instagram

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Alex Duin Alex Duin | 11:55 UK time, Thursday, 12 April 2012

Plenty of us enjoy taking pictures, and looking at our beautiful snaps. The problem comes when we want to spread them around - luring friends and relatives to our homes to look at photo albums is awfully inefficient.

For this reason, photo sharing on the internet is increasingly big business - a fact demonstrated this week when social media giant Facebook snapped up picture sharing outfit Instagram.

Instagram produces an 'app' (or application) for smartphones that lets users take pictures with their phone's camera, apply a series of arty 'filters' on the image that can change the tone and colours of the picture - often mimicking old Polaroid pictures - and then lets the user send their picture to a variety of social networking services, including Instagram's own.

What's really got tongues wagging though is the price of this acquisition: a cool $1 billion. Rather a lot for a company with only 13 employees, and which has yet to make a single dollar of profit (the app is given away for free). It seems that Facebook was attracted by Instagram's quick accumulation of 30 million users in just two years, and the notoriously fashionable makeup of those users.

And it's not just Facebook trying to snap up the photo-sharing market. In 2005 the struggling search-engine company Yahoo! bought the popular service Flickr just a year after it had started.

Of course, even now, Instagram isn't the hottest photo-sharing service around. Pinterest started in 2010, and is already the third biggest social network in the world. How long until someone cracks open the chequebook for them?

Find out how to use a digital camera and share your photos online with our WebWise guides.
Read more from the WebWise blog about photography.


Alex Duin has spent his whole life wading through technology and the media, and in the process has worked and written all over the place, including for Channel 4, and Digital Unite. He divides his time between London and Manchester.


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