Software, Hardware, Silverware

Inside Instagram

Mat Honan1 at Gizmodo:

Twitter was nearly undone by scaling problems. Just as it began to really take off, in 2008 as it got into the millions of users territory, it began breaking down with regularity. The Fail Whale was everyone’s least favorite mammal. And that was almost entirely due to Twitter’s back-end, which was originally designed as an extremely simple program that ran on an open-source application framework. As it turned out, that didn’t scale.

Mat Honan takes an inside look at Instagram. The whole article’s worth a read, but I’d like to pay special attention to the above passage.

Instagram is my favorite social network. And it’s great that they’ve learned from some of Twitter’s early mistakes. Unfortunately, they seemed to have looked past Twitter’s biggest early mistake: profits. It worries me because I know that soon Instagram’s investors are going to start throwing around that scary word, profitability. I don’t know, and I worry that Kevin Systrom doesn’t know, what the answer is going to be. Hopefully it’s not a Dickbar.

I think the best thing Instagram could have done was to put ads in the free app from the beginning, and charged a dollar or two dollars for an ad-free version. That being said, putting banner ads into the app is pretty much off the table at this point. The outcry over ads suddenly appearing in a previously ad-free app, though free, would probably be too much for the young company. That being said, I do hope and I would request (if I were in a position to do so) that whatever revenue scheme Instagram’s team does dream up has a paid “opt-out” function. I really want to see this one succeed.

  1. A.K.A. the only Gizmodo writer worth reading. ↩︎