It’s official: Instagram has won the photo-sharing wars. One-time challenger Hipstamatic has more or less folded by integrating with Instagram and allowing users to directly push photos to its platform. That makes Hipstamatic the first third-party photo app to do this.
“When we launched, it was all about Facebook and Flickr and Twitter, and now we’re seeing a huge shift in our user base toward Instagram,” Hipstamatic CEO Lucas Buick tells Fast Company. “We’ve never been a social networking company, but we clearly benefit from social networks. So this will be the first app outside of Instagram that lets you into their network. That’s pretty cool for us.”
All branding will not be lost for Hipstamatic, however. Each Instagram-posted photo that originator from the other application will bear a “Taken with Hipstamatic” tag that will prompt them to open or download the app.
While your gut might tell you this is humbling for Hipstamatic, which launched before Instagram and coveted that photo-sharing world prior to its debut, this is nothing but smart. Instagram is unstoppable and now boasts more than 27 million users – and again, that’s iPhone alone. CEO Kevin Systrom recently revealed the long-promised Android integration is in our midst, so the time is right for Hipstamatic so hop aboard. Not to mention the fact that being the first (and currently only) app with this inside promotion has its benefits.
But before you assume that various other platforms will jump on this as well, consider how different Hipstamatic is from them. Hipstamatic is more about the process and presentation; the illusion of using an analog camera. Community has never been its strength or focus. These other competitors don’t have nearly the following Instagram does, but they do promote their own social platform in addition to their editing and filter process. Integrating with Instagram is maybe more of a submission for them.
Still, Hipstamatic once ruled the iPhone-photo landscape, and fortunately the service is different enough that this solution is a win-win: both Instagram and Hipstamatic will get increased activity and boosted user numbers. Who’s next? Camera Awesome seems perfectly poised to utilize the Instagram API – it pushes photos to a host of outside sites, including Photobucket, Flickr, and Picasa (which, technically, doesn’t exist anymore).
“I’d imagine if the experiment takes off that you’d likely see more API clients being allowed to do the same in the future” Systrom says. That’s putting it lightly. It feels like all photo-sharing platforms would be wise to mull the idea over. Instagram has decidedly won and competitors might as well share in that victory.