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Personal @instagram.com email addresses could be part of the app’s new messaging service

Some digital digging by TechCrunch has revealed that personalized @instagram email addresses could be on the roadmap for the photo sharing service. Instagram is rumored to be working on an instant messaging platform to take on the likes of Whatsapp and Kik, and the new email boxes could be part of that strategy.

Hints of a new @instagram.com email handle were sent to TechCrunch by a marketing and e-commerce company. The addresses appeared as part of a database search, though their validity hasn’t been confirmed. Instagram itself has made no comment on any future plans for adding instant messaging or email to its apps.

As we’ve previously reported, GigaOm’s Om Malik has written that “well-placed sources” suggest Instagram is working on an instant messaging component. This would of course follow the lead of Instagram’s owner, Facebook, which has its own chat service and accompanying @facebook.com email addresses for users.

According to Malik, the next significant release of Instagram could be out before the end of the year — just in time to catch the millions of users unwrapping new smartphones and tablets they’ve been given for Christmas. If these users can message each other through Instagram, then they may not bother installing WhatsApp.

Instant messaging and photo swapping services are one of the hottest app categories of the moment. With Google’s Hangouts, Apple’s iMessage and Microsoft’s Skype, all of the major players are looking to grab as big a slice of the messaging pie as possible. Independent startups like Snapchat, WhatsApp and Kik are attracting millions of users, much to the alarm of the established big names. There are strong rumors that Twitter is also considering extending the capabilities of its Direct Message tool.

Whether or not Instagram’s messaging service and user email addresses see the light of day, it has to stay relevant (just like Facebook) in the face of an ever-changing digital landscape. If the new features are on the cards, we shouldn’t have to wait long before they appear.

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