on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Picture Play

Putting the fun back into photography

The recent sale of Instagram for $1 billion to Facebook has got me thinking about how many people use cameras today and how we - as “photographers” - might learn something from the playful approach of ‘casual users’.

First, a little history: the rise of Instagram has been truly meteoric; the service was launched in March 2010 and by March this year had over 30 million subscribers and a billion images stored on its servers. Another aspect of the business was quite extraordinary; there was never any charge for the app or for sharing the files. Set up and run on just $7 million of venture capital and with no way of generating cash, sceptics might speculate that Instagram’s strategy was always to be bought by one of the big players. (No doubt the investors and the thirteen engineers who work at Instagram will be pleased with the pay out resulting from this strategy!) The creators of the Hipstamatic app have been hugely successful too, with more than 10 million downloads in less than two years. Numerous other camera apps, including Tadaa and Lo-Mob, are doing almost as well. The question is why?

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