This week Facebook purchased a company that makes a little mobile app called Instagram for one billion dollars. What does Instagram do? It allows the user to “transform everyday moments into works of art you’ll want to share with friends and family”. In other words, you take a picture with your phone, use one of Instagram’s filters or borders to change your photo, and then send it to someone or post it on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc.
Why did Facebook pay so much money for Instagram, a small company with only 13 employees? There is lots of industry speculation, but if you look at how Instagram functions, we are seeing the evolution of Web 2.0. While entities like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, blogs, etc. were originally developed with the idea the users would share content within the site itself. Next, connectivity expanded with applications that linked these major websites: post on Twitter and the post automatically appeared on your Facebook Wall, and so on. Now we are seeing applications that knit all this together and make it instantly available through the one device that everyone carries with them all the time, the cell phone. But not just any cell phone, the smart phone. The smart phone is going to be the next phase, dare we say Web 3.0, – The integration of mobile computing with the interactive, interconnected, collaborative features of Web 2.0.