April 10, 2012 | By:

The Ups and Downs of Integrated Services

Facebook Acquires Instagram: The Ups and Downs of Integrated Services

You’re probably hearing about Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of Instagram, a photo-sharing service that applies a vintage filter to photos taken on an iPhone or Android smartphone. Instagram is a mobile-only application in which you snap a shot, and then apply one of 16 filters that gives your photo an old-timey look (think more ’60s and ’70s than ’20s and ’30s, mind).

According to Facebook CEO/Owner Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook will allow Instagram to continue growing independently, but you can expect to see the ‘book integrate Instagram’s features into its own site as well. You’ll likely see a merging of your two accounts so that all Instagram photos are posted to Facebook albums, and you may even see Instagram’s photo filters become usable on the photos you upload directly to Facebook as well. (Instagram’s mobile-only setup means that you can only use it with photos on your phone, so applying similar filters to shots from your digital camera might be tough if you don’t have a solid photo editor.)

In terms of integration, this will probably be a pretty mild shift. Sometimes larger-scale integrations occur, however. What would happen if Facebook bought Twitter? Or if Google had purchased Facebook instead of building Google+? Or when your task management software integrates with your invoicing software? These things happen all the time with the fast pace of the Internet, and sometimes you’ll have to decide how thoroughly you want to adopt new features or integrations. Here are some benefits and disadvantages to consider:

Pros:
• Could offer you new features or a new service at little to no extra cost.
• May automate tasks (such as posting Instagram photos to Facebook or, in our more business-y example, such as auto-populating your invoices based on your tracked billable hours).
• Integrating services into a single log-in can decrease password clutter.

Cons:
• If an integration doesn’t take and a product you depend on phases out, you’re stuck finding an alternative.
• Automating tasks may result in more sharing than you’d like, such as a photo going out on Facebook before you want it to or unintentionally over-billing a client.
• Integrating services into a single log-in can also decrease your accounts’ online security.

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