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Can't beat them? Buy them!

by Vikas Mehta on Apr 10, 2012
Facebook just announced the acquisition of Instagram for a billion dollars. This comes only months after experts had started touting Instagram as a potential Facebook killerSo, is this a knee ...

Blogger profile: Vikas Mehta

Vikas Mehta is the Chief Marketing Officer at Lowe Lintas + Partners India, one of the largest and most celebrated communication agencies in the country. He’s played leadership roles in three countries and managed businesses | companies for 15 markets across the Asia-Pacific region.

Facebook just announced the acquisition of Instagram for a billion dollars. This comes only months after experts had started touting Instagram as a potential Facebook killer

So, is this a knee jerk-reaction or a well-thought-out strategy? I guess only time will tell on how Facebook leverages the combination across platforms. On the surface, it would seem that Facebook has acquired Instagram for its  photo-sharing capabilities, and that's what the official announcement says. In my opinion, it goes far deeper.

With more people accessing Facebook more often, on handphones than a computer screen, the mobile experience still leaves a lot to be desired. whatever the platform (iOS, Blackberry or Android) the experience is less than exhilirating, especially if you want to do more than the basic stuff. What Instagram could bring to the party is the advantage of being built-for-mobile, not just mobile-compatible.

Mobility is at the core of Instagram's functionality and when integrated with Facebook, its advantages could be leveraged beyond just photo-sharing. It could help Facebook create a superior social experience on mobiles, and ward-off a serious threat to its business. In fact, if done right, this could further accelerate mobile access of social networking sites and help Facebook strengthen its dominance.

Can't-beat-them, buy-them. An interesting approach, to say the least. But what else do you do when you are the category and are cash-rich as a company.

Going by same  logic, the 'check-in' feature of Facebook isn't really the coolest geo-tagging service in circulation. The recent Gowalla acquisition seemed more like a talent-play than a business-buy. Should Foursquare be next? Never say never.

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