Facebook to Acquire Instagram Photo-Sharing App

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Facebook just announced that “it has reached an agreement to acquire Instagram, a fun, popular photo-sharing app for mobile devices.” The deal consists of “approximately $1 billion in a combination of cash and shares of Facebook” and “is expected to close later this quarter.”

The popular photo app debuted alongside the iPhone 4 and has counted some 30 million registered users who upload about 5 million photos per day. The company recently released the app for Android users as well.

(MORE: How to Quit Instagram and Export Your Photos)

Photo sharing is big business for Facebook, and Instagram has the kind of mass appeal to make it a good acquisition by the social-networking giant — perhaps Facebook is shoring up its feature set as it prepares for its long-awaited IPO. You may recall that Facebook had reportedly been toying with Instagram-like features as far back as last August.

It’ll be interesting to see how longtime Instagram fans react to the news, as some didn’t exactly take kindly to news of the app’s becoming available for Android users last week.

It’ll also be interesting to see how Facebook implements Instagram features for full-blown Web browsers. In an interview that TIME’s Allie Townsend conducted with Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, Systrom contended that Instagram was developed solely for mobile devices, saying:

You can’t take a desktop experience and shove it into a 3-in.-by-4-in. screen. It’s a very different behavior pattern. It’s a very different browse pattern. People interact with their phones very differently than they do with their PCs, and I think that when you design from the ground up with mobile in mind, you create a very different product than going the other way.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seemingly assuages such concerns by promising “to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.”

Here are Zuckerberg’s full remarks regarding the acquisition:

I’m excited to share the news that we’ve agreed to acquire Instagram and that their talented team will be joining Facebook.

For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. 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.

We believe these are different experiences that complement each other. But in order to do this well, we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.

That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.

We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience. We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.

These and many other features are important parts of the Instagram experience, and we understand that. We will try to learn from Instagram’s experience to build similar features into our other products. At the same time, we will try to help Instagram continue to grow by using Facebook’s strong engineering team and infrastructure.

This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo-sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook, and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.

We’re looking forward to working with the Instagram team and to all of the great new experiences we’re going to be able to build together.

You can read Facebook’s entire press release here: Facebook to Acquire Instagram.

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