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Instagram sends out mysterious invite – let the speculation begin

Instagram sent some unusual invitations to a media event it will host December 12 — a piece of paper arrived in a box, accompanied by a 4-inch by 4-inch block of wood with an image of grown adults frolicking whimsically in a wooded area on the front. Are they just playing around with bougie invite formats, or hinting at a new feature or service?

An update to the photo-sharing platform is expected by the end of 2013, and this event would be an appropriate occasion to reveal what’s next. Will it be private messaging? Some tech writers think so, and introducing a messaging service could help Instagram boost engagement and take a bite out of Snapchat’s action. Messaging would be a smart feature expansion. Instagram is enormously popular for posting photos and comments publicly, but allowing users to trade words and images privately would open up a whole new way to use the service, and considering Snapchat’s rise, people want the option of privacy when it comes to sharing media. 

Of course, others have a different theory about the meaning behind this: 

Complex and TechCrunch suggested that the wooden blocks could be a clue, and that they signal Instagram will announce plans to print physical copies of its images. I hope not: there are already way too many services that allow you to print photographs on stuff, including a recent service that lets you transpose Instagram photos onto marshmallows.It is safe to say there’s no shortage of places offering to take that Toast-filtered selfie and slap it onto just about anything. 

Sure, it might be slightly more convenient to order your Instagram photos to be printed through the service itself instead of going to a third-party, but only marginally so — unless Instagram lawyers up and forces all third-party printing services to close, this would be a bizarre service to introduce.

So what’s actually going to happen at the December 12 event? Give me your predictions in the comments.