Instagram Photo Sharing is Simply a Success

Instagram, a social photo sharing app, announced on their blog yesterday that users have now shared 150,000,000 photos.  That's a lot of zeros, especially when you consider that Instagram only launched in October of 2010, and that they are only available on iPhone and iPod touch.

For those of you unfamiliar with the app, Instagram allows users to snap photos, apply funky filters, and share them with followers (both on Instagram, and other social media like Twitter, Flickr, and Tumblr).  This straightforward, simple concept has gained the app over 7 million users in 10 months.  For a bit of perspective, Flickr took almost 2 years to reach 100  million photos.

So what has made Instagram so successful so early in the game?

Social platforms such as Flickr and Facebook paved the way for users to understand the concept of social photo sharing. Not only that, but Instagram is a stand alone social network as well, where the only thing users share are photos and comments.  Add the ability to "Like" a photo and mention other users in comments, and you have a nice independent social network where you can post as many pictures of  your cat as you can take.

Also, as this blog post (5 Things Instagram Got Right that Others Before it Couldn’t) pointed out way back in October, Instagram mastered the art of true social integration.  Finding and following users who you are already connected to on other platforms is a breeze, as is sharing your content.  Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, and even Foursquare and Posterous are all easily configured and each photo can easily be posted on as many or as few of those networks as you like.

Of course, the pure simplicity of Instagram shouldn't be overlooked either. A few minutes with the app is all users need to orient themselves and post their first image.

Instagram has achieved growing success by allowing iPhone and iPod touch users to easily post unique photos to all (or none) of their social sites.

In the past few months, several other platforms have stepped up to provide bells and whistles that Instagram's simplicity leaves out of the picture. For example, inkstagram.com and other similar sites now allows users to manage their Instagram account online, an ability noticeably absent from the Instagram platform, and sites like Prinstagram and others are providing ways for users to print Instagram photos in fun ways.

But what's next?  How will Instagram monetize this success?  The FAQ on their website simply states "We believe that the core of our product will always be free...However, we plan to experiment with different models as we grow and learn what special value we can provide to the community to make their collective experience more engaging, exciting and useful."