I recently re-joined Instagram. That wouldn’t really be worth writing about because there’s probably hundreds of people who join the service every day. But some readers may remember my announcement that I wouldn’t share these retro-styles phone photos any longer.
But it turns out that there are things that I “see with the phone”, and more importantly of course, photograph with the phone, that I wouldn’t really photograph with the “real” camera. And don’t we all have the need to share these things?! 🙂 This one is a good example:
That’s the door of a truck with sticky tree sap and leaves and seeds on it. For the life of me, I would never even think about raising my camera to make a photo of this, but with the phone and all its restrictions, I really like it. Well, maybe it’s a mistake to not think of using the DSLR to make such a photo. But anyway.
As I thought about it more (now we’re getting to the topic of the post;-) it dawned on me that there’s one thing that Facebook did absolutely right: they left Instagram alone after they bought it. They didn’t dismantle it and integrate it into their main product. Even today, you can sign up for Instagram with just an email address – you can use your Facebook account of course, but you don’t even need to have one to use Instagram. And Facebook probably connects stuff in the background. But it’s a specialized, stand-alone service, and (for now) they kept it like that. And it’s the same with WhatsApp so far.
Facebook seems to be fully aware that their “main” product is not attractive to everyone. That people don’t want to “have Facebook” just to use Instagram, or WhatsApp. That is highly unlike Google, which not only seems to deem it unthinkable that someone would not like them, but also tends to gobble up, dissect and digest other products and services, and turn them into… yes, what exactly? Eventually, a discontinued service/product perhaps… 😛
But for now, lets assume that Google wants everything to be Google+ (because that’s how it was for the last 2 1/2 years or so). Imagine all the things that Google could’ve just left alone, and “soft-integrate” into Google+ instead of using an axe and a sledgehammer. Most of all, Picasa Web Albums and YouTube, of course. But also the Android Market aka Play Store (why the F do I need a Google+ account to rate and review an app?!), the location sharing that once was in Google Maps, Google Talk. The manifestation of that comes in the shape of the dreaded Google+ “eye of Sauron” notification icon in Mail, Drive, Calendar… everywhere, to notify you that some complete stranger from Islamabad has added you to their circles. That’s great!
When I share a photo from Instagram to Facebook it gets displayed quite nicely on the site, and I can click through to see it on Instagram. Google could have done the same with Picasa Web Albums, for example. But the other thing is – I only occasionally share an Instagram photo with my Facebook friends or Twitter followers at the same time. This “total cross posting” approach where everything you share has to be on every platform you use is a failure that creates enormous boredom on all channels that you’re using.
And I can’t help but notice/think that Google, in wanting Google+ to be everything, everywhere, it is not really successful at anything instead, either. Well, it’s successful at creating fanboys that will fiercely cry out when someone says “ghost town”, okay, I give you that… 😉 The thing is – Google already had a nice “sharing” service that nicely integrated all kinds of other services (including even Flickr, for example). It’s name was Buzz, and it failed because it was integrated into GMail instead of being a stand-alone product. That led to the privacy blooper which basically doomed Buzz.
I’m happy, using Instagram as a stand-alone application. Thank goodness Facebook left Instagram alone!
PS: yes, lets be grateful that Snapseed and the Nik Collection set of plugins for Lightroom still exists as standalone products – but Snapseed has received nothing but a couple of bugfix updates, and the remaining Nik engineers at Google managed to create two iterations of Analog Efex (I used it once, and if it hadn’t been a free update, I would feel exactly zero incentive to buy it) and some bug fixes, but not much else.