When Facebook bought Instagram for a cool $1 billion, some fans worried the social networking juggernaut would somehow make the photo-sharing app uncool and irrelevant.
Instead, Instagram has retained its edge and become a giant.
On Wednesday, Instagram announced a huge leap in users. Three hundred million people now log in each month to thumb through, double-tap and comment on photos. That’s up 50 percent from just nine months ago, when Instagram announced it had reached 200 million monthly users.
In other words, Instagram has come a long way since April 2012, when Facebook announced its intention to buy it. At that point, Instagram had just 30 million users.
“Over the past four years, what began as two friends with a dream has grown into a global community that shares more than 70 million photos and videos each day,” Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom wrote in a blog post Wednesday. “We’re thrilled to watch this community thrive and witness the amazing connections people make over shared passions and journeys.”
Facebook has had mixed success with its apps. To be sure, Facebook itself is huge on mobile -- the company has said that 1.12 billion people access the social network each month through mobile devices. Messenger, which Facebook essentially forced people to download in order to keep messaging each other through Facebook mobile, has 500 million monthly active users. And WhatsApp, which Facebook bought for an eye-popping $22 billion earlier this year, said in August that it has 600 million monthly users.
There’s almost certainly a lot of overlap there, since many people use more than one of these services. Still, there’s no denying that Facebook’s mobile reach is staggering.
Other apps in the Facebook family -- namely, those Facebook has itself developed -- haven’t fared as well. Facebook's Camera, an Instagram-like app that Facebook launched a year before it bought Instagram, and Poke, a Snapchat-like app, were discontinued in May. Meanwhile, Slingshot, Facebook’s latest attempt at a "disappearing messages" app, and Paper, a social news reader the company launched in January, aren't even among the U.S.'s top 500 downloaded apps, according to data from App Annie, an app-analytics company.
But when you’re as huge as Facebook, not every app needs to be a runaway success. Between WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger and of course Facebook itself, the world’s largest social network already owns a lot of the time you spend on your smartphone.