Instagram surpasses a hundred million active users

Instagram web feed (teaser 001)

Facebook-owned Instagram, despite negative publicity surrounding the controversial terms of service brouhaha, continues to grow its installed base. Today, the company announced a major milestone: Instagram now has over a hundred million active users across mobile platforms. That’s ten million more active monthly users since it announced the 90 million milestone on January 17. By comparison, Twitter over a six-year time span hit 200 million active users, as of end of 2012.

Commenting on the development, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom shared an anecdote in a blog post about how he realized Instagram was going to be different when fans at the Giants Stadium starting posting their Instagrams after another co-founder “with a few quick commands at his terminal” filled the service with images of the game…

“More than ever, people are capturing the world in real-time using Instagram – sharing images from the farthest corners of the globe,” he writes. “What we see as a result is a world more connected and understood through photographs.”

Instagram’s success has come as a surprise to many watchers, yours truly included. I never understood why all the fuss about a service which lets you share low-quality photos.

Instagram growth (MacStories 001)
Instagram growth chart via MacStories.

And I never understood why people felt as if they were required to use those dreaded filters.

But that’s just me and Instagram soon became the leading photo sharing service. I think its appeal stems from the simplicity and instant gratification: it only takes a few seconds to snap up a photo and share it with your followers, who will see it on their smartphone screen.

Instagram for iOS 3.0 (iPhone screenshot 001)Instagram for iOS 3.0 (iPhone screenshot 005)

It seems the service’s potential didn’t really dawn on its co-founders until that game I mentioned earlier:

While we may only have had a few thousand people around the world using Instagram that night, we had a sense that maybe through Instagram we could tune in to what was happening just a few steps away. With a few quick commands at his terminal, my co-founder Mike’s screen filled with images of the game: the bullpen, dugout, concession stands, cheering fans and a panoramic view from somewhere up high.

In a matter of hours, the people in that stadium had recorded moments in time through Instagram and allowed us to tune into an event while we sat a half a mile away, working – winter coats and all.

For the first time, we understood why Instagram was going to be different. We understood the power of images to connect people to what was happening in the world around them. And, although Instagram had a fraction of the user base it does today, that night we saw a preview of what Instagram would enable at a much larger scale down the road.

Recently, Instagram enabled comments and likes via the web interface

Instagram is a free download from the App Store and Google’s Play store. Unfortunately, the application doesn’t run natively on the iPad (yet) nor does it support the Mac.

And if you jailbreak, definitely check out a new tweak called InstaSave which simplifies the process of saving your favorite Instagrams directly to the Camera roll.

And iPhone photography buffs who happen to hate Instagram needn’t worry: transferring all your Instagram snaps to another service like Flickr has never been easier.