Facebook's Instagram Acquisition Pushes Divide with Twitter

In April of this year, Facebook acquired free photo sharing platform Instagram for approximately $1 billion in cash and stock, and since that time Instagram's user base has grown from 27 million to more than 100 million. In a discussion with TechCrunch at LeWeb Paris 2012, however, Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom indicated that Facebook has still yet to create a plan to maximize the value of the acquisition. 

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Systrom told TechCrunch that the merger with Facebook has gone very well thus far and that as the company has nearly doubled its staff to 25 developers, no one from the original team has left, either. 

The report comes amid a turn in the relationship between Instagram and Twitter, which has now lost its ability to properly display Instagram photos. Per the New York Times Bit Blog, Instagram has disabled integration with Twitter cards, which display images and content directly on Twitter's own web site. Instagram photos have begun to appear cropped or off center on Twitter, and Systrom has confirmed to the NYT that the service will eventually be withdrawn from embedding on Twitter's web site in favor of a new model directing users to Instagram's site. 

According to the report, Systrom did not offer a timeline for the planned change, but did clarify that Twitter users will still be able to share an Instagram photo on Twitter. The difference will be that instead of accessing images through a "View Photo" link within Twitter's site, users will be directed to Instragram's site or app. 

Notably, Instagram's services will remain unchanged on Tumblr and FourSquare, a sign that more direct competition between Facebook and Twitter could be picking up. As the NYT notes, the potential for future advertising revenue based on photo sharing has made popular services such as Instagram a point of contention among social media sites. This is particularly true of mobile sharing, as smartphones, cameras, and social media are all integrated. 

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The NYT also reported over the weekend that, for its part, Twitter is developing its own photo filters as it updates its mobile applications. While Twitter explored the possiblity of acquiring a photo sharing service after Facebook acquired Instagram, the company ultimately decided against it, with the exception of buying PhotoBucket in June for storage purposes. 

While specific details remain internal, it is interesting that the NYT report on Twitter's plans mentions the idea of a video-editing tool that would allow users to bypass third parties such as YouTube.

Based on the way Twitter is widely used around the world, a built-in video tool could help bring even more immediacy to events and occasions. If it is made as easy for anyone to use as Instagram's service makes replicating that distressed retromodern look, it could be the kind of thing that takes off in a similar way.