Instagram: your photos of cats are worth money [UPDATED]

We’re on the cusp of 2013 and mobile devices completely dominate the world of personal computing. Indeed, mobile devices are shaping the fortunes of all the players—large and small—some of whom aren’t actually playing that much. *doesn’t even mention Intel* Amongst the biggest drivers in the mobile device world are photographs—billions and billions of them. According to Nokia, around 1.4 billion photographs are taken each day on mobile phones.

Nestled amongst these stats is Instagram—which is more than a photo-sharing app—it’s a social network that, unlike the big networks, was conceived and operates solely as a mobile app. At the end of October 2010, its first month on the App Store, it had 300,000 users. This time last year it had 14 million users, but it now boasts over 100 million users (Sept 2012).

In the last day a great deal of hype has been created over Instagram’s updating of its Terms of Service. Specifically, the bits surrounding what Instagram is allowed to do with your shots of cats, chicken parmas and signage-with-grammatical-errors. Instagram (i.e.: Facebook) has stated that it now has the right to license (charge money for) other organisations to use your photographs. You still retain ownership, but from January 16, 2013 Insty could potentially turn your collection into cash. In its defense, it doesn’t explicitly say that it will do this, only that it can.

An example of how it could work might be where a mobile phone company pays to use a selection of photographs that depict real life (probably good looking) people using its product and that feature its name in a hashtag. Perhaps, even, they're localised to further drive home their message. It’s potentially a very lucrative niche.

The way I see it, since Facebook dropped a massive $1 billion on Insty this year, it has probably been looking at ways to monetise its investment. After all, the app is free, its filters are free, the hosting is free and its network is almost peerless—lay-photographers have never had it so good. So why shouldn’t Insty make money out of all the pics?

I’m not going to pretend I like this new T&S. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do about my own Instagram collection. I quite like the app, I like my collection and I’ve built up a modest following that I’d actually like to keep. Like most users, I will probably just have to suck it up and keep on filtering. Also, given there are over 1 billion photographs in its collection, the chances of my pics (or yours) being used are rather slim anyway.

So suck it up fools—welcome to commercial content creation 2.0.


Instagram is listening!

I guess you'll have to open the app and hit the News button to see it all. Nice one Insty...

Follow me on Instagram: MonsieurMaori. I take photos of my dog, self-inflicted haircuts, everything I eat, hipster shit and plenty more boringness that Instagram sees value in!

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