Households across Canada and the United States are ditching their landlines in favour of mobile devices. Already the norm in most parts of the world, the growing number of mobile-only households is a clear indication that consumers want to stay connected without being tied to a physical location. A new start-up is taking this trend one step further and is looking to de-link snail mail from a fixed address. The premise behind Outbox is simple: they intercept your daily mail, scan it and push a digital copy to the recipient. Plus, users can request the original hardcopy of anything they receive. Positioned as a complement to traditional postal services, Outbox is part of a growing number of businesses that are using technology to reconcile the online and offline worlds without eradicating one or the other.
Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram is the ultimate start-up success story: two guys create a photo sharing app, attract an incredibly passionate and active user base and, in less than two years, sell for an insane $1 billion to the world’s largest social network.
But before you could say Zuckerberg, Twitter and the blogosphere exploded with less-than-happy Instagram users reacting to the news. From accusations of selling out to encouraging others to start using a new photo app, it seemed congratulatory messages were few and far between.
Now to be fair, I’m one of the rare people on the planet who still uses a BlackBerry so I’ve yet to experience the magic of Instagram for myself. But I suppose that for the Instagram loyalists the Facebook acquisition is pretty similar to when that awesome band/ restaurant/ designer you discovered soooooooo long ago suddenly gets super popular. On the one hand, they succeeded and hey that’s great. I mean isn’t that the point of all this? But on the other there’s still that whole notion of being in the know before x was cool, before x was mainstream, before x sold out.
I’m sure Mark Zuckerberg had plenty of reasons to shell out the $1 billion – whether it was Instagram’s user base, UX design, staff, or just a massive way to trump Google’s acquisition of Picnik. I’m also sure that the Instagram founders had a good reason for selling, astronomical payday aside.
What I’m not quite sure of is the reactions people have had. Available for free to anyone with an iPhone (and now Android), Instagram was far from a small and exclusive community. Not to mention, its 40 million users had the ability to share their photos across other platforms, including good old Facebook. Yet somehow the app managed to cultivate the feeling of a close-knit community amongst its millions of users – a stark contrast to the mess of ads, pokes and spam messages that are becoming more and more synonymous with the Facebook experience.
They say it’ll be business as usual at the Instagram camp, which should appease the Instagram loyalists for now. My guess is that it’ll only be a matter of time until The Photo Network hits theatres.