34 thoughts on “Why Facebook has won the mobile photo war”

  1. I don’t understand why Google did not create a mobile version of their Google+ photo creative kit and make it simple to use. That would be much more of a killer mobile photo app than Facebook+Instagram combine

    1. …that is because making things simpler is not as much fun as “boil the ocean” approach that big companies often likes to take. 🙂

    2. Google wants to take the natural flow of data and deliver based on relevance where as Facebook wants to coax you into drawing attention from “friends” and trap you in their own realm. I trust Google more than I trust Facebook.

  2. “But in the end, it’s the photos that work wonders for the Mountain View, Calif.-based social-networking giant.” …Menlo Park….

  3. On the public vs. private distinction, are you saying that (i) Facebook is hedging its bets as to whether the public will choose public vs. private or (ii) people will choose between the two apps before taking a picture based on how they want to share? Perhaps (iii) none of the above?

    1. No I am not saying that. It is essentially owning both graphs and has done a bear hug on the market in a way that allows them to carry on dominating the photo business.

      1. The government has not yet approved the merger. I am hoping the much tougher European Competition Commission looks into Facebook’s buyout of Instagram on anti-trust grounds. Facebook already is a monopoly, we all dont want to see that extended through a buyout. Facebook should have to compete with Instagram.

      1. Whenever an entity believes they’re superior to everyone else and they’re going to dominate a market, a country, or the world, they may make large waves for awhile, but their own arrogance eventually causes them to fail, often in a spectacular way.

        1. Rich

          I don’t think they believe they are superior. they just are the biggest and trying their best to make sure they don’t lose that position.

  4. Om, I think that Facebook has great market share now for closed and open/mobile communities that use photos as an engine. But photos really are one of the content engines of the global network and will never be totally dominated by one player because there are so many use cases. This has been clear since 1999.

    Case in point, both Tumblr and WordPress traffic in extraordinary numbers of images. eBay still does huge volumes as part of the sales cycle. Pinterest has blown open a whole new opportunity.

    It may be that Instagram is the first expression of fast emerging “hit” communities that we could see a lot of in the future and focus on photos/video.

    There are also lots of other photo sharing use cases that will be default behaviors/services over the next 5+ years!

  5. Facebook, Instagtam capture only part of the public conversation.

    Therefore not all photos “share well” (diffuse) there.

    Game is not over yet.

    Real-life conversations ultimately the most important, long-term piece to build into.

    With that said, this analysis kicks ass and it’a why Om is the best in the biz.

  6. The service that has the most eyeballs to see the photos will win the photo service wars. Facebook has 901M sets of eyeballs. It wins.

  7. great analysis Om! The public + private insight is so true, and users tend to share their pictures constantly between those two spectrums. Facebook has to dominate both and they certainly will.

  8. How does the plain old Apple Camera app on iOS play into all this? I am just wondering cause I tend to use that one the most. You can also tweet from it :-).

  9. Right, because everyone wants their photos to be public… NOT

    Om Mallik is a facebook fanboy, fails to see risks in this strategy. G+ photo management is much better, back up to private, share what you want with whom you want.

    Facebook cannot do that since that would be costly (more pics) and less page veiws and Ads.

    Reading Om’s posts, I wonder if he has any incentive to make his analysis sound bullish on facebook…investments.. options.. friends?

  10. I’m getting a little tired of the amazing business opportunities that lie in Facebook’s future. Wake me up when one of them materialises in its present.

  11. Whether it be iOS or Facebook, To say one company has “won the war” would suggest that innovation is over. I’m sick of all the the this company won that, its a little early in the digital age to be making claims of who won what . Maybe in 25 more years we can say who won

  12. Looking purely from the perspective of user base any idea who has more users? FB, Google , Yahoo or MSN?

  13. This makes a lot of sense, however, I’m still unclear how any of this is going to result in revenue…are people really going to happy having ads shoved into their photos?

    1. Allen

      I think Photos are the lure/hook. As long as they keep coming back to see the photos, Facebook has an opportunity to either show them ads or sell whatever else it is cooking up.

  14. Om, great piece as usual, but curious as to your thoughts on today’s WWDC photo stream announcement and to what extent Apple seems to be creating it’s own graph taken together with all of the other announcements today – card, maps, etc.

  15. The FTC/SEC should absolutely block Facebook from buying one of its strongest competitors — Instagram. Instagram is a photo based social network that now has 40,000,000 users. its one of the strongest competitors facebook has seen to date. Facebook has network effects. Without network effects Mark and Co. would have had strong competition a long time ago. Instagram is one of the few companies that found a hole in Facebook’s armour through its early jump on mobile platforms. It would be a shame to simply watch Facebook buy away the competition. Do the right thing FTC/SEC and block the buyout. Make Facebook compete.

  16. Most of the images I post on FB are throwaway pictures that I wouldn’t post anywhere else (e.g. on Flickr), that have no value beyond real-time.

    So – no, I don’t think FB rules mobile photo sharing (and yeah, I do know they igest 500TB of new content each day).

    Facebook is nothing more than a giant temp folder in that regard.

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