‘Tis the season to share… pictures that is

It seems like everyone nowadays is a professional photographer. Modern technology equips even the most elementary in the trade, with the ability to capture and edit endless amounts of images. One program that has popularized this photo-taking trend is Instagram.

Acquired by Facebook earlier this year for a cool $715 million, the once exclusive mobile application — known best for filters such as “Earlybird” and “Amaro” — has grown exponentially not only in usage, but market presence as well.  On Monday, Nov. 5, the social network unveiled their newest project regarding the photo app: “web profiles” for every Instagram user’s account.

Described as destination pages that show all of a user’s photos online in a catalog, instead of just single images, the program obtained by Facebook now makes it easier to comment on, view, like and share another’s picture.

Although similar to the timelines of Facebook, the new Instagram profiles provide a more specific focus on the photos themselves, pertaining to both the visually and creative minded. And with such a simplistic layout, the navigation throughout the website requires little to no effort, loading quickly due to minimal amounts of data per page.

Despite the positive hype surrounding the new Instagram pages however, critics are calling Facebook out on their mobile market penetration attempt. Plus, those in opposition to the business venture quickly undressed Facebook’s initial purpose for starting this photo website.

With over 100 million users, if (more like when) the profiles gain traction, the web traffic will be immense, therefore providing the social network with even more opportunities for monetarily advantageous advertisements to be plastered on the page.

Has Instagram regressed, then, in appeal? Eric Jackson, a contributing writer for Forbes.com, thinks so.

“Web isn’t cool anymore. Mobile is,” Jackson said in his article titled, “Is Facebook Already Making Instagram Uncool?” “Users want a different experience from their mobile apps than they previously did from their websites.”

Considering the prevalent shift from Internet fascination to mobile utilization, Jackson’s points appear valid. As expected though, privacy concerns remain high due to the controversy behind Internet safety.

“A web-based service makes it easier to collect lots of information about people using the service and also makes it easier for people to share photos their friends post,” Nick Pickles, a privacy pressure group activist, said. “Clearly, both of these issues raise privacy questions, and time.”

Nevertheless, due to the profile’s recent reveal, Instagram has only provided preliminary precautions to take toward account security, which one APU student was quick to point out.

“With the app you are able to control privacy settings,” said junior communication major Maddy Schulz. “If your photos are set to public, anyone will be able to see your profile on the web, but if they are set to private, only logged-in users that you’ve allowed to follow, will be able to see them.”

Not to place the new website in a completely negative light — there are some enticing aspects, which another APU student noticed.

“I think these web profiles will provide the viewer with a greater appreciation for the displayed images,” senior business administration Jessica Rock said. “As someone who really enjoys Instagram, I believe this website will essentially become an electronic portfolio, filled with the photographer’s finest work.”

Once just a photo-sharing application for iPhone users, Facebook has finally made it possible for anyone with an Internet connection to take part in the photo filter frenzy. Now available to smartphone and PC users alike, this technological move offers a large opportunity for Instagram to capture yet another demographic: companies.

“Now brands and businesses that use Instagram have a landing page to direct users to,” Instagram chief Kevin Systrom said. “We believe this is a big step in allowing brands to have an Instagram home on the web … and we’ll continue to build products that suit both them and users alike.”

In light of the hefty transaction price Facebook paid for Instagram, it will be interesting to see if this Insta-project will begin yielding monetary returns into the social network’s deep pockets anytime soon.

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