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Oh Snap! Facebook to Buy Instagram for $1BOh Snap! Facebook to Buy Instagram for $1B

Facebook is spending a cool billion on a mobile photo-sharing app that makes your smartphone snaps look like they were taken with Grandpa's Box Brownie

Dan Jones

April 9, 2012

3 Min Read
Oh Snap! Facebook to Buy Instagram for $1B

Facebook announced plans Monday to buy mobile photo-sharing site Instagram for a cool $1 billion in a move that will make the social networking giant an even bigger data hog for wireless carriers.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the news on his profile page this afternoon: The company is offering $1 billion in a combination of cash and shares for the San Francisco-based startup. The transaction is expected to close later this quarter.

"We're committed to building and growing Instagram independently," Zuckerberg writes. "We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook." [Ed note: Phew, you can still share your blurry photos on Twitter Inc. ]

The stats behind the buy

  • The company was founded in October 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger.

  • Instagram has reportedly raised $47.5 million in funding since launch.

  • The company had 13 employees as of March 27.

  • 30 million Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iOS users have downloaded the app since it launched.

  • 1 million Android users downloaded the app as it was launched last week

A bigger hog?
Mobile photo sharing isn't the most porcine data hog out there; mobile video and streaming music tend to shunt bigger files over the air. But, with 30 million users and counting, the amount of traffic that Instagram can generate is nothing to be sniffed at.

The Verizon Wireless data calculator suggests that a digital photo can be up to 3MB a shot. Hence, uploading or downloading two photos a day can take a user to 180MB a month; 10 photos a day would take the user close to 1 gigabyte; and 20 to 40 photos a month might help a user bust through a 2GB cap even without videos, music or surfing.

These are rough estimates, since phones contain a wide variety of digital cameras with everything from 1-megapixel to 8-megapixel available. App developers and carriers also implement varying degrees of compression for photos in the data pipe.

Nonetheless, the trend is for bigger and better digital cameras in phones, even as Instagram gets the big bucks for making mobile shots look like they are old and faded.

Carriers: Happy snappers
The major U.S. carriers have tended to work with Facebook on photo-sharing promotions recently as a branding exercise. Verizon is promoting itself with 30 tablets in 30 days photo contest on Facebook. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), meanwhile, has its cover photo mosaic on Facebook.

The more mobile photos submitted, the more data used for the wireless carriers.

For more

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Dan Jones

Mobile Editor

Dan is to hats what Will.I.Am is to ridiculous eyewear. Fedora, trilby, tam-o-shanter -- all have graced the Jones pate during his career as the go-to purveyor of mobile essentials.

But hey, Dan is so much more than 4G maps and state-of-the-art headgear. Before joining the Light Reading team in 2002 he was an award-winning cult hit on Broadway (with four 'Toni' awards, two 'Emma' gongs and a 'Brian' to his name) with his one-man show, "Dan Sings the Show Tunes."

His perfectly crafted blogs, falling under the "Jonestown" banner, have been compared to the works of Chekhov. But only by Dan.

He lives in Brooklyn with cats.

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