Instagram founder Kevin Systrom made the announcement on Sunday at the South by Southwest conference. Those numbers are impressive, especially considering that Instagram had numbers of 15 million in December.
“At the end of the day, people are really excited about Instagram and they’re not excited about it because it makes your photos look beautiful. They’re excited because it networks people across the world and it’s the single fastest growing thing in mobile period,” Systrom said. “It’s Facebook-level of engagement that we’re seeing.”
Instagram is currently only available on the iOS platform from Apple, but that’s about to change in short order as an Android app is in the wings. The Android version is currently being tested in private beta and, according to Systrom, should be released “very soon.”
To add to Instagram mania, the company is set to raise another round of financing that is expected to value the app at a whopping $500 million. That’s nearly 20 times what the company was worth just one year ago. The downside, at least for now, is that Instagram hasn’t been able to generate any considerable revenue. This round of financing, rumoured to be in the neighbourhood of $40 million, is having some trouble netting the larger venture capital fish because of the lack of workable business model.
Instagram, for the uninitiated, lets users share photos with “followers” on social networking sites and Instagram itself. Users can comment and “like” photos and can also touch up their photos. In what is termed an homage to the Kodak Instamatic and Polaroid cameras of bygone eras, photos are formatted in a classic square shape.
The app’s arrival on Android has been long-awaited and should make a hefty splash for Instagram in the subscriber department. According to Systrom, the Android app is even better than the iOS version and could be “one of the best Android apps you’ll ever see.”
Instagram, picked by Apple as its “App of the Year” in 2011, should enjoy a fairly bright future – at least for now. As with most red hot apps and products in today’s fickle tech era, the company’s fortunes could change in the blink of an eye.