Instagram was once so very niche: you had to have an iOS device to use the service, and its desktop presence was all but nil. For some time now the popular application has been available on both major mobile platforms, and today it has made its way to the larger Internet with the introduction of ‘Web Profiles.’

They are exactly what you would expect: pages for users to show off their Instagram work, bio, and personal information to their admirers and friends.

It’s like Instagram profiles on your phone, but on the Web. You almost want to ask what they will come up with next. Here’s a shot of a new Web Profile in action:

Screen Shot 2012 11 05 at 11.28.00 AM 520x377 Instagram brings Web profiles to its platform, moving further from its all mobile roots

This is obviously a move that users will welcome, as it extends the functionality of the tool they were already using, and provides a fresh outlook for their work. At the same time, it’s another watering down of the exclusivity that helped fuel Instagram in its early days.

The parallel here is Facebook’s move from elite colleges to all colleges, then to high school students, and now your great-aunt. If you want to keep hitting growth targets – and Instagram now has over 100 million accounts – you have to broaden the scope of the product so that it is palatable to all.

And for the photo app, that means Web profiles. If you hit up your current profile on the site – Instagram.com/AlexWilhelm1 for myself, as an example – Instagram has a page of information up as to what the new feature will bring.

There is only one sentence you need: “We’re launching web profiles to give you a simple way to share your photos with more people and to make it easier to discover new users on the web.” In other words, Instagram is trying to boost engagement and fuel user growth.

That sounds familiar.

Web Profiles will be rolling out over the next week, so sit tight.

Top Image Credit: Todd