I love it when a company consciously learns from real world users, then takes off like a rocket ship. That’s exactly what’s happening to Instagram, a hot photo-sharing startup picuki.It only took three months for the mobile application vendor to capture one million users, and a month later they had two million users. In case you’re wondering, that’s a faster ramp than Facebook or Twitter – and it pushed Instagram to become application of the week for Apple’s store. It’s no wonder that Instagram received a healthy influx of $7M recently from venture capital firm Benchmark Partners.
But it wasn’t always like this. Instagram started as a mobile location and sharing application called Burbn. Burbn received a lot of attention because it was an application in the location space, just as the space was taking off. Burbn also garnered a lot of tech attention because it was written in HTML-5. The initial ‘stealth’ product had a number of reviewers and testers. But even the CEO of Instagram would tell you it was no big success. It had too many features, didn’t have a clear marketing position and frankly was trying to be too many things to too many people. Now that’s a mistake too many businesses make – trying to shoot at 360 degrees instead of focusing on a niche where they can win.
Instagram says that was part of the plan. According to them, the plan was to 1) release a product that had many features, 2) monitor how people used it and what features they were most attracted to, then 3) realign the application and strengthen its distinctness, in the areas where buyers were most interested.
Today, the application only runs on iPhones. Yep, that means that two million iPhones are using the application in its first four months of availability. Instagram is expected to deliver an application for Google Android-based phones soon. In February, the company announced an API that enables developers to link to their photo platform for all kinds of interesting applications. Instagram is preparing to launch a new website that will feature the power of Instagram location-tagged photos combined with a sample application it developed.