Home Against All the Odds: Instagram Gets 1 Million Users in 10 Weeks

Against All the Odds: Instagram Gets 1 Million Users in 10 Weeks

IPhone photo sharing application Instagram announced today that it has hit 1 million registered users, a mere 10 weeks after the app launched to the public. The company had all kinds of odds against it, yet here it is – fast growing and widely loved. As M.G. Siegler wrote in a good profile of Instagram today, it took Foursquare a year to hit 1 million users and Twitter, two years.

Only time will tell how well this relatively simple app holds up its market share in the crowded world of mobile photo sharing. Its users like the filters it offers, the community they find there and the ease of cross-posting Instagrammed photos out to other networks like Flickr, Facebook and Foursquare. It’s really as simple as that; and look at all the reasons that logic would imply that it shouldn’t have worked.

The team started out working on something very different. Originally a standards-centric, well-designed, meta location-based social network called Burbn, the company now informally known as Instagram just made it under the line weeks before people starting complaining loudly that the word “pivot” had grown cliche. But pivot they did, and clearly very well.

Right: Last night my wife made roasted beets, brussel sprouts and parsnips for our lunar eclipse Solstice dinner. You better believe I Instagrammed it. Not pictured is goat cheese with fig sauce on walnut bread.

The Instagram website is terrible. You can’t view a user’s other photos, you can’t zoom in to see photos full-sized, you can’t follow people on the web and have them appear on your phone, you can’t….well, you can’t do nearly anything from the Instagram web pages. Except download the iPhone app, which a million people have.

The company doesn’t own instagram.com. Some bottom-feeding domain squatting slimebag does. That means poor Instagram has to promote the website www.instagr.am and that’s just not easy to remember.

They take one of the best mobile phone cameras on the market and they muddy up its photos. Laurie Voss points out that even the iPhone’s camera is pretty bad, but Instagram just encourages users to make it worse. “In forty years’ time you’re going to look back at these photos and love them no matter what,” he writes. “And you’ll wonder why the f* ck. you thought wrapping a white border and splashing a pink blob over them was a good idea.”

Right: One of my favorite of many pieces of art at my mother in law’s house. A visit to her place always leaves my Instagram app exhausted.

There are loads of mobile photo filter thingy apps already. We compared a number of them in November and found that Instagram does not have the best feature set. It might have the nicest aesthetic, though.

Instagram’s investors decided to back one of its competitors. Oops, high-profile investors Andreesen Horowitz were interested in funding location-service Burbn, but in the mobile social photo space they decided they’d rather fund Instagram competitor PicPlz, founded by experienced entrepreneur Dalton Caldwell, former CEO of music service Imeem. That’s not good for business.

A competitor was named the iPhone app of the year by Apple. Competing app Hipstamatic does roughly the same thing that Instagram does and to be honest, it has a much cooler (probably fake, marketing b.s.) background story. Hipstamatic charges $1.99 for its app, has been available for about a year and reports that it has 1.4 million users.

Right: Seeing Broken Bells at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon. How Instagramtastic!

Despite all this, after just 10 weeks Instagram has an impressive 1 million users! There’s no Android app, you can’t zoom in on any of the pictures, if you use it to check-in on Foursquare then you miss out on all the other features of Foursquare. The list of reasons why Instagram shouldn’t have succeeded go on and on. But here we are. Or rather, there I am. I’m @marshallk on Instagram. See you there!

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.