Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharing social network that originally launched in 2010. The app is available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Due to its major success in the mobile phone market, Facebook purchased the company in 2012 for 1 billion U.S. dollars. Instagram’s user base has seen tremendous growth over 3 years, increasing by approximately 150 times by the end of 2013. Originally, the photo service had 1 million users by December 2010 but reached 150 million users as of 2013. In 2012, the total number of Instagram users in the United States amounted to roughly 25.7 million and is expected to double by 2016.
The rate of Instagram users of course corresponds with the increasing number of smartphone users, seeing as how users can only post pictures with a smartphone, while only being able to view photos through the website. Partly due to the app’s limited functionality on a PC, only 17 percent of all U.S. internet users use Instagram regularly. Being limited to smartphones is partly the reason for the app’s popularity, perhaps due to a feeling of exclusivity. In March 2012, the total amount of mobile minutes spent on Instagram by U.S. smartphone users amounted to only 390 million per month, but increased by 20 times as of February 2013 to 8 billion minutes per month.