Distimo: Instagram's growth heralds 'a new kind of social network'

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Instagram represents "a new kind of social network--one that is completely built from an app," according to a new report issued by analytics firm Distimo. The firm contends that both the size of the photo-sharing service's international userbase as well as the growing number of mobile applications integrating Instagram functionality set it apart from the pack.

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Click here to view the charts from the Distimo report.

Facebook spent $1 billion to acquire Instagram earlier this month, and while some critics have argued the social networking giant spent too much to complete the deal, Distimo data indicates that Instagram remains poised to continue its impressive worldwide growth. First launched for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS platform on Oct. 6, 2010, Instagram downloads failed to reach the 10,000 download mark in its first month of availability; however, during the period between May 2011 and March 2012, cumulative downloads in the U.S. increased sevenfold, and Instagram now regularly records more than 100,000 installs per day.

No less significant, the number of shares from Instagram to Twitter increased twelvefold between May 2011 and March 2012. "This shows how successful the network of Instagram is: while the growth in daily downloads is impressive, the number of shares are increasing even more," Distimo stated. "In other words, the average number of shares per user [is] increasing."

Days prior to the Facebook acquisition, Instagram expanded to devices running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system, generating more than a million downloads in less than 24 hours. Distimo reports that while Instagram for iOS experienced a slow, steady growth both in the U.S. and across the globe, the Android version quickly reached the number one spot in Google Play's social category in five of the ten biggest app markets: The U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada and Italy. "The fact that Instagram is published in the Social category instead of the Photography category makes clear that Instagram no longer considers itself as simply a photography app," Distimo notes.

Between the buzz generated by the Facebook deal and the introduction of the Android app, cumulative Instagram downloads in April 2012 are eight times higher than in May 2011. "Now including posts from Android phones, the number of shares showed another spike," Distimo adds. "Twenty times more Instagram photos are now shared on Twitter than in May 2011. The number also doubled since February 2012, only two months ago."

Further enhancing Instagram's influence and reach: The number of third-party mobile apps incorporating its photo sharing and filtering tools. Some of the most popular iOS apps integrating Instagram functionality include Camera Awesome, Pic Stitch, PicFrame and InstaPad. 

Based on the Distimo data, it seems Facebook didn't just acquire a mobile app with Instagram--it absorbed an entire mobile social networking ecosystem, a move that should accelerate Facebook's ongoing transition from the desktop to smartphones and tablets. "Even though it is difficult to evaluate the price of $1 billion for the company, Instagram has made its mark on the app market," Distimo concluded. "Within two years, the startup became a billion dollar company, and investors and developers will be watching the app stores even more closely now an acquisition of this size has occurred from a single app."

For more:
- read this Distimo blog entry

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