Billion-dollar rip-off?

May 25, 2012 12:18 pm

Facebook Camera is just Instagram by another name

You may have missed it with all the news that the Facebook float has flopped to such an extent that angry investors are suing the company for not disclosing accurate revenue estimates, but yesterday the beleaguered social network announced the launch of the new Facebook Camera.

According to Facebook’s own words, this is a ‘new mobile app that makes using Facebook photos faster and easier’. The features it promotes are seeing all your friends’ photos in one place, sharing multiple photos fast (!), the ability to add captions and new editing tools.

Now if that some of that sounds familiar, that’s because they are the same features already present on Instagram, which Facebook is in the process of buying for $1 billion.

Which begs the questions how can Facebook claim the app (available for Apple smartphones and tablets only at this stage) is ‘new’? And was it really worth paying all that money simply to be able to introduce existing features to a product that carries your name?

Brian Blau, research director at technology analysts Gartner, believes the answer is ‘yes’, telling the BBC: ‘Facebook has to move its business forward. By doing this [bringing out a ‘new’ product using established features], Facebook allows Instagram to remain intact while adopting some of its features to ensure its core service maintains its lead as the Internet’s most used photo-sharing site.’

My Blau may be right, but we’re betting this will give yet more people another reason to suddenly start questioning Mark Zuckerberg’s business acumen. And Instagram’s founders have been given another reason for laughing all the way to the bank.

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