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It sounds like Facebook’s $1 billion purchase of Instagram happened so fast that nobody else was able to get in on the bidding.Too bad for Google.
Buying Instagram would have been a great boost for Google+, the company’s fledgling social network. Google claims that about 100 million people are using Google+ every month, but that includes people who are logged into all Google sites, including Gmail and YouTube.
Meanwhile, Instagram basically built an alternative social network of 30 million users in a bit more than a year, with no other product to leverage from.
Buying Instagram also would have been a great strike against Facebook. Instagram took Facebook’s original feature — photo sharing — and made it mobile in a way that Facebook never was able to match. All Google would have had to do was take Instagram and keep it around in its current form (and of course keep improving the Android version). That would have gradually drawn more and more users away from Facebook’s mobile apps.
So what does Google do now?
Well, there’s another fast-growing mobile social network that was built largely around photo sharing: Path. It’s not growing as fast as Instagram, but it reportedly has more than two million registered users. It’s also got a beautiful mobile design and Silicon Valley buzz galore.
Google’s Don Dodge was singing Path’s praises earlier today.
So you have to wonder if Google’s M&A chief David Lawee is on the phone to Path founder Dave Morin right about now.
(Also, there would be a certain ironic symmetry to the deal: Instagram founder Kevin Systrom used to work at Google, while Morin worked at Facebook, so there would be a certain ironic symmetry to the deal.)
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