As Instagram prepares to celebrate it’s 5th birthday next week, co-founder Kevin Systrom expressed his desire for the whole world to join its user base in an interview with the BBC.
Early Birthday Celebrations
Systrom was joined by a host of celebrities last night at an early celebratory dinner at one of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants, 15. While the dinner was characterised by countless selfies with guests such as Daisy Lowe, Lily Allen and Caroline Flack; his talks with journalists earlier in the evening spoke of more serious business plans and a vision of a future where everyone on the planet shares photos and videos of their lives.
The photo sharing service, which Systrom co-founded with Mike Krieger back in 2010, made headlines last week when it was announced that they had taken over Twitter in terms of the number of active users. Instagram now has 400 million active users, almost a 25% more than Twitter’s 302 million, but still dwarfed by Facebook’s 1.4 billion – the largest user base of any social network in the world.
“Our main rival is how you spend your time otherwise”
When asked about which services he considered to be the main rivals to Instagram, he cunningly avoided mention of either Facebook or Twitter, instead stating that: “our main rival is how you spend your time otherwise.”
He pointed out that currently, the average user spends 21 minutes every day using Instagram. He retorted to accusations that many parents are becoming concerned about the amount of time their children are spending using social networks and mobile devices generally by instead focussing on the huge cultural and educational benefits that he sees as being made possible by the ability to see snapshots of the lives of people from all over the globe that Instagram creates. He mentioned in particular a user in North Korea who shows off, among other things, the beautiful landscapes in the country – arguably a refreshing break from the resoundingly (and rightly) negative reporting on the nation’s politics.
A Vision for the Future
On his vision for the future of Instagram, he pointed out that the 400 million strong user base is still a long way off the population of the world, and so they “have a big market to go after.”
He added: “I hope that the saturation point [of Instagram] is the population of the world, and we’re not going to stop until we get there.”
Of course, there is still a long way to go and his point is likely a rhetorical one, but nonetheless his ambition is admirable and it was a smart move of him to not put himself in competition with services like Facebook, at least not vocally so. Perhaps his vision of the future includes more integration between the two social networks, with each using their individual strengths to work for and with each other.
So I hope you’ll join us in wishing Instagram a happy birthday next week, and all the best for whatever the future may hold.
What do you think of Systrom’s worldwide ambition? And importantly, of his point that more time spent on social networks and staring into the screen of a mobile device isn’t necessarily a bad thing; that the ability to snap and share with the whole world should serve to create a more inclusive global community?