(Reuters/Norbert von der Groeben)
Facebook reportedly bought Instagram, the picture and messaging social service, for $1 billion in cash and stock, according to reports.
Instagram, the mobile-exclusive photo-sharing application, has made big leaps in user additions recently, which could be the reason behind social media giant Facebook's acquisition of the company. Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the deal via Facebook this afternoon.
"I'm excited to share the news that we've agreed to acquire Instagram and that their talented team will be joining Facebook," wrote the young billionaire. "Now, we'll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests."
Instagram – named the best iPhone app of the 2011 by Apple – was originally exclusive to the company's flagship device. 30 million iOS users were added in the last 18 months, according to Forbes.
That number exploded when Android users were finally allowed access to the app. Instagram reported over a million downloads within an hour of the program becoming available to Google's operating system.
Although Instagram is joining Facebook, don't expect it to become part of the conglomerate that is the world's number one social networking experience. Zuckerberg was careful to make clear that the two would remain separate.
"We need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram's strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook," wrote tech guru. "That's why we're committed to building and growing Instagram independently."
Parts of the reason for Instagram's popularity and subsequent buyout are its simplicity and speed. Where Facebook forces a user through six screens to take a photo, Instagram has only one. Also, its 17 different effects – while seemingly providing many choices to alter photos – load and function surprisingly quick, requiring only a few seconds to upload and picture through the app.
Facebook's buying of the company plans to focus on the areas where their photo-sharing has fallen short, and improve quickly – hopefully not stepping on Instagram's toes in the process.
"We will try to learn from Instagram's experience to build similar features into our other products," wrote Zuckerberg.