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This article was published on December 1, 2010

Instagram to expand past just photos, web interface also on the way.

Instagram to expand past just photos, web interface also on the way.
Jeff Cormier
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Jeff Cormier

Jeff Cormier, a graduate of SMU and the TW School of Law, is the co-founder of C4 Universe, LLC. Desire to know more? Jeff Cormier, a graduate of SMU and the TW School of Law, is the co-founder of C4 Universe, LLC. Desire to know more?

Instagram.  The free app exclusive to the iPhone and iPod touch is described by its creators as the “fun & quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures. Snap a photo, then choose a filter to transform the look and feel of the shot into a memory to keep around forever.”

Some people love Instagram, yours truly and Robert Scoble among the more notable ones, with many others loathing the app for a variety of reasons, most recently the app’s security flaws.

Regardless of your opinion of Instagram, the app with a rumored 1 million users in the first 8 weeks since its launch, is the subject of constant questioning about its future.  To that end, Robert Scoble sat down with CEO, Kevin Systrom, at the company’s home, Dogpatch Labs, to discuss the company’s vision and plans to maintain relevance.

Some of the highlights from the 13 minute interview includes (paraphrasing):

Scoble: I really feel like there’s a community there that I love talking to and I feel like you have something that could escape just photography and become a family of applications. Are you thinking about that?

Systrom: Oh absolutely. Well, I’ll say every successful social product starts with a very specific group of people whether its Facebook with just college students or Twitter with just tech folks. We’ve tried to focus on people who are passionate about sharing images of their life and I would not say we were going to stay in photography our entire lives but at the same time it’s very much who we are and our identity. I think going forward what you’ll see is us experimenting with many different ways around images because we think that’s the cornerstone to the conversation but not the conversation itself.

Scoble: What are Instagram’s thoughts on Andreessen Horowitz passing on investing in Instagram in favor of Picplz, another photo sharing startup, the tomorrow’s release of 360 Panorama?

Systrom: Competition is good.  Instagram was created for those that love sharing photos, and the company’s focus is on enhancing the experience of sharing photos for those who love doing so, while also examining many ways to share images.

Scoble: At present Instagram lacks a solid website with Scoble turning to Tumblr as a repository for his Instagram photos.  What does Instagram have in the works with respect to a companion site?

Systrom: Instagram believes there’s an opportunity to create an interesting web interface, changing the way individuals think about photos on the web.  Instagram does not want their site to be just another photosharing network.

Scoble: Are there plans to bring Instagram to other mobile platforms?
Systrom : Not at present, but the company is examining all mobile avenues including Android and WP7

Some other interesting items from the interview include Systrom’s belief that the key with mobile apps is to keep interest as long as possible by consistently innovating.  Moreover, Systrom, as an ex-Googler, offered his thoughts on his former company, saying Google is good at solving certain problems.  That said, there’s a big difference between building technology behind projects and building the community behind projects.  The latter is where Google has some difficulty.

Wrapping up the interview, Scoble opined that good companies are ones that show apps long before they launch and allow influencers to give feedback, with Systrom stating “monetizing too quickly sullies user experience” and teasing Instagram fans by stating the company is working on two very big themes without revealing what they are.

The entire interview is embedded below, is a pleasant listen and contains far more than is captured above:

Instagram is one of my favorite apps.  It’s well-designed, enjoyable to use and free.  If you don’t have the app, pick it up here, and let us know what you think about this polarizing photo app.

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