Until last week, Instagram was exclusive to iOS users. Dubbed the No. 1 app in the App Store last year, its popularity soared. On April 4, it was finally made available to Android, and I wrote about the disturbing undertone of the reaction from some iPhone users.
After today's news, I wondered how those iPhone users feel now that their precious photo-sharing app is not only open to their OS rivals, Androiders, but all 845 million active Facebook users.
Facebook used to be about exclusivity, but now it's almost the antithesis of that: anyone of age can join, and it's free. Will that curdle iPhone users' blood? If Instagram's cool factor was threatened by Android, the massive Facebook population uploading filtered pictures would be even worse, right?
I found that the outcry on Twitter isn't being dominated solely by iPhone users. However, as you might expect, plenty are unhappy. One writes: I QUIT. First Android users and now this.
Some new Android users are saying they will now have to quit, too -- one week after joining. (The numbers on how many Android users joined Instagram in a week are staggering; for perspective: CNET's Instagram account grew by approximately a third once Android was in on the game.)
Last week, these very people were the brunt of elitism and classism on the part of some iPhone users who didn't want to share their app with what they described as the Android plebs. Are these Android users now guilty of the same cultural discrimination when claiming they don't want to share it with Facebook users?
Maybe not. At first blush, it's easy to assume the backlash happening on Twitter and elsewhere (check out the lively discussion going on over on CNET's Instagram post about this) is of the same tenor as last week's outcry. But the analogy isn't quite the same.
Instagram isn't now merely available to Facebook users; it is now owned and will be operated by Facebook. In fact, Facebook users already had access to Instagram, as you know if you'd ever used the site and looked at your friends' pictures of gorgeous sepia-toned weddings.
But to get it on Facebook, you had to have an iPhone or an Android smartphone as of last week. That kept it an exclusive club. We don't yet know exactly how that will change, but presumably anyone with a cameraphone and access to Facebook will soon be able to partake of the Instagram fun. That might annoy people like this:
Ugh kill me. If Facebook allows non iPhone/android users to use instagram through Facebook, I quit!— Loraine(@InsaneLoraine) April 9, 2012
But, really, who cares?
In some ways, Facebook buying Instagram might unite Android and iOS users against what they perceive as a common foe: Facebook. The majority of cries on Twitter and in comments around the Web today seem to be less about the lack of exclusivity and more about the possible privacy concerns. Facebook, as you may well recall, has a spotty reputation when it comes to protecting your privacy.
If Facebook ruins instagram then I think I might quit the internet. Still, congrats to the team over there. Staggering achievement.— Tom Critchlow (@tomcritchlow) April 9, 2012
But will anyone actually quit Instagram over this? I've been known to threaten to quit Facebook over the years -- either because it tracks me across the Web or switches to Timeline, or I just am addicted to it and wish I would spend those hours reading poems and books that will enrich my life. So far, I have yet to follow through on those threats.
For a time, people vowed to quit Facebook. They didn't. Now, Instagram. Eventually everything will all be one thing that nobody can quit.— T.C. Sottek (@LaughingStoic) April 9, 2012
What about you? How do you feel about Facebook buying Instagram? Does it ruin the club if it's open to everyone? Are you nervous about privacy concerns? Let us know in the comments. And while you ruminate on that, I leave you with this lovely Instagram image shot by one of our Crave readers.