Newspaper article International New York Times

Instagram Pursues a More Intimate Future

Newspaper article International New York Times

Instagram Pursues a More Intimate Future

Article excerpt

The photo-sharing app is the latest social media service to jump on instant messaging, a sign that users are pulling back on public broadcasts.

Instant messaging may sound like a relic from the days of dial- up modems and AOL chat rooms, but it has become one of the most- heated and most-watched areas in technology in recent months, with companies rushing to be at the center of conversations on cellphones.

Instagram, the popular photo-sharing app, has become the latest service to dive into the fray, introducing Instagram Direct on Thursday. The feature will let users share private photos and videos with selected friends, instead of having every post go to all of the user's followers on the service.

In this way, Instagram joins a list of services trying to improve on simple text messaging, including WhatsApp, KakaoTalk, Line, WeChat, Snapchat, Kik and Viber. The services are appealing because they are fast and convenient. They also suggest a shifting tide in social media, one that pulls back from widespread sharing and relies more heavily on intimate, one-to-one interactions than on large public broadcasts.

As the user bases of the new messaging services have grown, particularly overseas, the companies have caught the attention of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs -- and have even pushed established players like Facebook, which owns Instagram, to race to catch up.

This past week, for example, Twitter expanded on its own private messaging offering, called direct message, to let people share photos in addition to text. Last month, the messaging service Snapchat turned down a multibillion-dollar buyout offer from Facebook.

"The amount of time that consumers spend within these apps is phenomenal," said Julie Ask, an analyst with Forrester Research, referring to the new wave of messaging services. "And they are only becoming more popular."

Instagram was introduced as a photo-sharing application in late 2010. Three years later, the service included the ability to edit and upload videos. …

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