Instagram CEO Weighs in on Facebook Partnership and Being a ‘Mobile First’ Company

Category: Technology / Dec 05, 2012 1:56PM EDT
As Internet users increasingly turn away from computers and switch on their smartphones, the world's biggest social network Facebook said it was ready to tackle this brave new world on Tuesday (December 4). The company is under pressure to prove to shareholders that there is still money in the Internet giant which has seen its share price tumble by more than half since it was first floated on the New York stock exchange in May. The company snatched up mobile photo sharing service Instagram for around 715 million dollars this year despite its relatively modest size and Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom told Reuters at the Le Web fair in Paris that its mobile presence was part of Facebook's motive. "Mark (Zuckerberg, Facebook founder) and I both see a future where Instagram provides a whole lot of value to Facebook as an independent brand as well, because I think that people understand that Instagram is associated with this mobile device, it's a photos only network and I think that that's part of why they were so excited about having Instagram inside, is that it is a mobile network," he said. That's a sentiment which was echoed by Facebook's director of platform partnerships Justin Osofsky who described the Internet giant as a "mobile first company." Facebook recently announced it planned to combine user data with Instagram, eventually bowing to public pressure to hold a vote on the proposed changes. An Austrian student group plans to take Facebook to court to try to get it to do more to protect the privacy of users. But Osofsky said the company would not threaten its users' trust in the brand. "It's really important that people trust their experience on Facebook, that's the cornerstone of what we do, and so the changes that we're making are consistent with those principles," he said. Instagram's Systrom agreed saying that the companies only act to improve the users' experience. Instagram itself is still ad-free and speculation remains as to whether that could be subject to change. Whilst Systrom refused to make any immediate announcement insisting the company was focusing on speedy growth, he did indicate that the business model could eventually change. Elsewhere at the fair just outside Paris, Berlin's SoundCloud -- referred to by some as the 'YouTube of audio' -- announced it was refreshing its service with new discovery and sharing tools. "It's a re-imagined version of what SoundCloud is, that really makes it a lot easier to discover and find interesting sounds, makes it easier to get closer to artists, or to creators and also makes it easier for people to share all their sounds," CEO Alexander Ljung said. He added the hope is the changes will make the service more appealing to a wider variety of internet users.