Once crowned “App of the Year,” Instagram has been a major draw for users to onboard to iOS devices. But with Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of the company, as well as its launch onto the Android platform, Apple and Twitter Execs have turned their backs on ever-burgeoning photo-sharing social network.
Instagram has been the recipient of a lot of good stuff recently — tons of new subscribers, positive press, and plenty of money, thanks to Facebook’s $1 billion dolar acquisition of the start-up company. But not everyone in the mobile computing milieu is particularly pleased by the acquisition — or Instagram’s expansion into Android.
According to 9to5Mac, both Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller deleted their personal Instagram photo sharing accounts in a very public manner, leveraging their semi-celebrity status in the technology sector to drive home a few pointed comments about Instagram’s recent business maneuvers. When a reader asked Schiller why he had deleted his Instagram account, he replied, “It ‘jumped the shark” when it went to Android.”
What’s Phil Schiller talking about?
Schiller is referring to the fact that Instagram is now running on Android. As you recall, Instagram achieved its success as an iOS app, and while it is a third-party app and was never owned or operated by Apple, Cupertino’s marketing department — largely spearheaded by Schiller — promoted the photo sharing app prominently, having been “featured several times in Apple’s App Store, even winning “app of the year” recognition. As marketing chief at Apple, seeing one of the platform’s most popular third-party pieces of software running on millions of Android phones is a disappointing sight.”
Dorsey’s public dissing of Instagram is borne of a different disappointment — Twitter was purportedly in the bidding mix for Instagram, but lost to Facebook. But his departure from Instagram is similar to that of Schiller’s in that “sour grapes” appear to be at the heart of their decisions to leave Instagram and levy criticisms.
To be sure, Cupertino is not used to losing at much of anything in business, and Twitter is clearly locked in a contested market share war with Facebook. But is Phil Schiller’s characterization of Instagram “jumping the shark” a fair criticism? Granted, Schiller or any other Apple executive would be hard-pressed to admit that Android-based apps are comparable to their iOS counterparts, but to say that Instagram “jumped the shark” denotes that the company has essentially reached its low point in doing so.
Yet, the vast majority of ultra-successful third-party apps run on both the iOS and Android platforms — it isn’t uncommon at all. And as both an iPhone and Android user, while I can safely say that iOS apps are typically much more feature-rich and reliable than Android versions, I don’t think that it precludes Instagram from penetrating the Android market. They are, after all, in business to make money for themselves — not for Apple.
Similarly, Dorsey’s sour grapes are equally questionable: I’m the first to label Facebook as the evil empire of social media. But was Instagram obliged to take a less favorable deal from Twitter in order to help them level the social networking playing field?
We, the consumers, benefit when companies like Apple, Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram play against one another aggressively in the marketplace. We end up with bolder, better products to purchase and use. But in my opinion, Schiller and Dorsey are being unsportsmanlike and petty here. In the grand scheme of things, their departure and public criticism of Instagram isn’t going to even ripple their steady rise in subscriptions. Maybe if Steve Jobs had done something like this, Apple enthusiasts would have followed suit — but I doubt Steve would have ever stooped low like this. Rather, I think that Mr. Jobs would have instead redoubled efforts to find the next big photo-based social networking experience that would someday make Instagram obsolete. It’s days like this when one only wishes Steve Jobs was still around.
By Michael Nace