Saturday April 20, 2019
Home Lead Story Will Instagra...

Will Instagram Turn Into Another Facebook Following the Resignation of Its Founders?

Facebook may soon have a new challenge on its hands: Figuring out how to keep Instagram growing if it loses the coolness factor that has bolstered it for so long.

0
//
Instagram
Kevin Systrom, CEO and co-founder of Instagram, prepares for an announcement about IGTV in San Francisco. VOA

When Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger sold Instagram to Facebook in 2012, the photo-sharing startup’s fiercely loyal fans worried about what would happen to their beloved app under the social media giant’s wings.

None of their worst fears materialized. But now that its founders have announced they are leaving in a swirl of well wishes and vague explanations, some of the same worries are bubbling up again — and then some. Will Instagram disappear? Get cluttered with ads and status updates? Suck up personal data for advertising the way its parent does? Lose its cool?

Worst of all: Will it just become another Facebook?

“It”s probably a bigger challenge (for Facebook) than most people realize,” said Omar Akhtar, an analyst at the technology research firm Altimeter. “Instagram is the only platform that is growing. And a lot of people didn’t necessarily make the connection between Instagram and Facebook.”

Instagram
Kevin Systrom, CEO and co-founder of Instagram, prepares for Wednesday’s announcement about IGTV in San Francisco, June 19, 2018. (VOA)

Instagram had just 31 million users when Facebook snapped it up for $1 billion; now it has a billion. It had no ads back then; it now features both display and video ads, although they’re still restrained compared to Facebook. But that could quickly change. Facebook’s growth has started to slow, and Wall Street has been pushing the company to find new ways to increase revenue.

Instagram has been a primary focus of those efforts.

Facebook has been elevating Instagram’s profile in its financial discussions. In July, it unveiled a new metric for analysts, touting that 2.5 billion people use at least one of its apps — Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger — each month. While not particularly revealing, the measurement underscores the growing importance Facebook places on those secondary apps.

Facebook doesn’t disclose how much money Instagram pulls in, though Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter estimates it’ll be around $6 billion this year, or just over 10 percent of Facebook’s expected overall revenue of about $55.7 billion.

instagram
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at a Facebook developers conference in San Jose, California. VOA

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long seen Instagram’s promise. At the time, it was by far Facebook’s largest acquisition (although it was dwarfed by the $19 billion Zuckerberg paid for WhatsApp two years later). And it was the first startup allowed to operate mostly independently.

That has paid off big time. Not only did Instagram reach 1 billion users faster than its parent company, it also succeeded in cloning a popular Snapchat feature, dealing a serious blow to that social network upstart and succeeding where Facebook’s own attempts had repeatedly failed. Instagram also pioneered a long-form video feature to challenge YouTube, another big Facebook rival.

Recently, Instagram has been on a roll. In June, Systrom traveled to New York to mark the opening of its new office there, complete with a gelato bar and plans to hire hundreds of engineers. Only a month earlier, Instagram had moved into sparkly new offices in San Francisco. In a July earnings call, Zuckerberg touted Instagram’s success as a function of its integration with Facebook, claiming that it used parent-company infrastructure to grow “more than twice as quickly as it would have on its own.”

But Instagram has also been a case study in how to run a subsidiary independently — especially when its parent is mired in user-privacy problems and concerns about election interference, fake news and misinformation. And especially when its parent has long stopped being cool, what with everyone and their grandma now on it.

Instagram
One sign that additional integration may be in Instagram’s future: Zuckerberg in May sent longtime Facebook executive Adam Mosseri to run Instagram’s product operation. Pixabay

Instagram’s simple design — just a collection of photos and videos of sunsets, faraway vacations, intimate breakfasts and baby close-ups — has allowed it to remain a favorite long after it became part of Facebook. If people go to Twitter to bicker over current events and to Facebook to see what old classmates are up to, Instagram is where they go to relax, scroll and feast their eyes.

So, will that change?

“I don’t think Zuckerberg is dumb,” Akhtar said. “He knows that a large part of Instagram’s popularity is that it’s separate from Facebook.”

As such, he thinks Facebook would be wise to reassure users that what they love about Instagram isn’t going to change — that they are not going to be forced to integrate with Facebook. “That’ll go a long way,” he said.

Instagram
WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum speaks during a conference at the Mobile World Congress, VOA

Internally, the challenge is a bit more complicated. While Systrom and Krieger didn’t say why they’re leaving, their decision echoes the recent departure of WhatsApp’s co-founder and CEO Jan Koum, who resigned in April. Koum had signaled years earlier that he would take a stand if Facebook’s push to increase profits risked compromising core elements of the WhatsApp messaging service, such as its dedication to user privacy. When Facebook started pushing harder for more revenue and more integration with WhatsApp, Koum pulled the ripcord.

One sign that additional integration may be in Instagram’s future: Zuckerberg in May sent longtime Facebook executive Adam Mosseri to run Instagram’s product operation. Mosseri replaced longtime Instagrammer Kevin Weil, who was shuffled back to the Facebook mothership.

Also Read: Facebook Introduces Free Online Education Programme in The US

That likely didn’t sit well with Instagram’s founders, Akhtar and other analysts said. Now that they’re gone as well, Mosseri is the most obvious candidate to head Instagram.

“Kevin Systrom loyalists are probably going to leave,” Akhtar said.

Which means Facebook may soon have a new challenge on its hands: Figuring out how to keep Instagram growing if it loses the coolness factor that has bolstered it for so long. (VOA)

Next Story

Apple’s Recycling Robot Is Capable of Disassembling 200 iPhones Per Hour

In 2018, the company refurbished more than 7.8 million Apple devices and helped divert more than 48,000 metric tons of electronic waste from landfills. 

0
apple
Apple has received nearly one million devices through its programmes and each Daisy can disassemble 1.2 million devices per year. Pixabay

 Apple on Thursday announced to expand its global recycling programmes and introduced Daisy, its recycling robot that is capable of disassembling 200 iPhones per hour.

US customers can send their iPhones to be disassembled by Daisy which is 33 feet long, has five arms and can methodically deconstruct any of 15 iPhone models.

Daisy will disassemble and recycle select used iPhones returned to Best Buy stores throughout the US and KPN retailers in the Netherlands, the company said in a statement ahead of Earth Day that falls on April 22.

apple
For cobalt, which is a key battery material, Apple sends iPhone batteries recovered by Daisy upstream in its supply chain. Pixabay

Apple also announced the opening of its “Material Recovery Lab” dedicated to discovering future recycling processes in Austin, Texas.

The Lab will work with Apple engineering teams as well as academia to address and propose solutions to today’s industry recycling challenges.

“Advanced recycling must become an important part of the electronics supply chain, and Apple is pioneering a new path to help push our industry forward,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives.

Apple has received nearly one million devices through its programmes and each Daisy can disassemble 1.2 million devices per year.

In 2018, the company refurbished more than 7.8 million Apple devices and helped divert more than 48,000 metric tons of electronic waste from landfills.

robort
The Lab will work with Apple engineering teams as well as academia to address and propose solutions to today’s industry recycling challenges. Pixabay

Daisy can take apart iPhones to recover materials such as cobalt, aluminum and tin, which are then recycled back into the manufacturing process.

Once materials have been recovered by Daisy, they are recycled back into the manufacturing process.

Also Read: Parkinson Treatment Possible Through A Blood Pressure Drug

For cobalt, which is a key battery material, Apple sends iPhone batteries recovered by Daisy upstream in its supply chain.

They are then combined with scrap from select manufacturing sites and, for the first time, cobalt recovered through this process is now being used to make brand-new Apple batteries. (IANS)