We interviewed Kevin Systrom co-founder of the massive photography app Instagram. Here we find out about Kevin’s passion for photography, why iOS not Android, and how does Instagram make money? A big thank you to everyone who sent their questions in for Kevin!
Have you always had a passion for photography?
Absolutely — ever since I was a kid I’ve been playing with cameras. It’s when I discovered digital photography and photoshop, which is when I became truly addicted.
Why did you launch with an iOS app not Android?
iOS is what we use internally – the platform at the time was simply more developed and had a bigger ecosystem for developers.
Is it important to you to launch an Android app?
Yes. It’s also important for us to launch a full-fledged website. It’s more about timing than anything. We’ll get there eventually when we can produce top-notch experiences on both.
Why did you decide not to launch Burbn?
I could write a book on this question, but the main reason was that the product wasn’t special enough. It didn’t stand out from the 1,000 other check-in apps that were vying for peoples’ attention. In our minds, we had to focus on what made us special – and that was photos.
You have stated you have not “spent a dime on marketing” how has Instagram grown so popular so quickly?
When you build great products, those products often resonate with people to the point where they’ll do the word of mouth marketing for you. Good products sell themselves, in many ways.
How does Instagram convert it’s massive user base into financial profit without charging for its software or supporting it with ads?
We don’t currently, but it’s top of mind for big challenges to tackle going forward. Big shifts in technology and the world never come easy – but that’s why we’re in this business in the first place. An entrepreneur’s job is to seek out the business model with a large market, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.
Instagram has fast become not only a photo sharing app but also very much a media tool, documenting world events as they happen, was this your intention?
Absolutely. Though we figured it was going to be many years until we saw anything like that. It’s been inspiring to see it happen so quickly.
You have stated that being based in San Francisco has had it’s benefits for investors and support, what is your advise for entrepreneurs and start-up based outside of San Francisco?
Move to San Francisco. (Kidding) Lots of really successful startups have been based in places like New York, London, etc. Technology is location independent, and in many ways being from outside of silicon valley means that you can tackle opportunities that don’t exist here domestically.
What is the future for Instagram and photo sharing media on mobile?
We’re tackling a very large market with big unsolved problems in mobile. I can’t wait to get out our next few releases that I think really change the way people look at mobile photography and their phones. While I can’t share details yet, I assure you it”ll be pretty awesome.
A big thank you to Kevin for taking part in the interview! This is just a taster, you can learn the full story of Instagrams success and Kevin’s hints and tips for your own iOS app at the Future of Mobile next week! It’s going to ROCK!