The big news in the past week is Facebook buying Instagram for a clean $1 billion. While the 14 person staff at Instagram is busy divvying up their mega-millions, the casual and perhaps slightly incredulous observor is asking his/her-self... why? The photo altering app was recently launched to Android and enjoyed some incredible snap-up rates, and with a company valuation of 500 million, there are reasons that the price tag is not a huge surprise.
Other than syncing most fluidly with microblogging platforms like Twitter and Facebook, the photography powerhouse was likely to have fallen into the hands of at least one of these social media giants. Facebook's internal image library (content aggregated across its users) already far exceeds Flickr and Twitter combined. What this means is that future changes and optimizations will lend the most effectiveness to the largest photo database. More photos to process equals more use equals more process.
Second, buying Instagram stops Twitter from the acquisition, which directly makes Facebook's functional features more robust. In terms of whether this is will improve service
The real monkey wrench is how people will view the application from now on. Was it's third-party nature such a large part of its identity to begin with? Is it more important now that the largest social media site has acquired it? This also begs the question of what the current app development environment is like. Obviously a business is created to monetize, but what lines are drawn between serving the people and serving the system?