On Wednesday, April 26, Instagram announced that it had reached 700 million users.
The number itself is impressive, but more notable is the rate by which Instagram grew: the popular social photo- and video-sharing service managed to pick up 100 million users in just four months.
Instagram Reaches A Milestone
Instagram said this was the fastest rate the app gained 100 million users in its history. It also said that a number of things helped, including the ease with which users can sign up for the app and find Facebook friends through it.
Instagram launched in 2010 as a way for people to take photos, put filters and frames on them, and share them online. Two months after it launched, it picked up a million active users, shooting up to 10 million after a year. Facebook bought it for $1 billion in 2012.
Over time, the app withdrew digital frames from its library of filters, while also adding a number of features as it grew. Among the most recent evidences of this growth are Collections, a way for people to sort and categorize saved posts; an offline mode; and new Sticker features for another one of its services, Stories.
Many say Facebook stole the idea of Stories from Snapchat — the app, now company, which championed a type of ephemeral photo-sharing service. It makes sense. Facebook had once attempted to buy out Snapchat, to no avail.
While the "If you can't buy them, copy them" maxim isn't winning Facebook any points for originality, it's attracting users regardless. In mid-April, Stories reached 200 million daily active users, a number which surpassed Snapchat's figures, ironically.
Another service Instagram clearly usurps is Twitter, with its 328 million users against Instagram's 700 million. There's just no competition here, clearly. While Instagram grows, Twitter falters, and many ponder where the ultra-popular microblogging service will go from here on out.
Instagram has been aggressively rolling out features to rival Snapchat, and its strategy to eclipse it is to become more like it. So far, it's working. Instagram keeps getting bigger, while Snapchat's user growth rate has been declining since the former launched its Stories feature.
In Q3 2016, Snapchat's user base grew by 7 percent. In the following fiscal quarter, it grew by only 3 percent.
Snapchat attributes the flat growth to "increased competition," according to one of its recent filings. The company said that it only recorded 50 million daily active users in 2016, with growth stagnating after Instagram launched Stories, as mentioned above.
Most recently, Snapchat said it has 160 million daily active users.
Snapchat has reasons to be upset. First, Facebook copying its core features and distributing it across its apps isn't exactly fair game. Second, it needs all the help it can get now that the company has gone public, and Facebook's copying saga sure isn't helping.
Snapchat hasn't officially addressed issues of copying, nor has it done anything to suggest it's pursuing legal action against Facebook. Time, however, will tell.