Say what you will about the feature inequalities between Android and iOS, but Instagram is proving that Google’s platform has some serious numbers behind it. According to Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, the app is signing up 2,000 new users every minute, and has blasted through the million download mark in less than a day. There will inevitably be an uptick in iOS signups due to the increased publicity — the budding photo social network is expected to broach 50 million subscribers within a few weeks, up from 30 million today.
Even before the app was released, there was tremendous demand: nearly half a million people gave their email addresses to the company in hopes they would get notified early. But there has been some controversy, too. BuzzFeed has aggregated some iPhone users’ distaste at allowing Android to plug up its social network with “inferior product,” so to speak.
It’s hard to say which is sadder: the thousands of Android users complaining that their phones are not compatible with Instagram, or the thousands of iPhone users bemoaning the sullying of their homogenous canvas. Only hours after the app’s release, the company released a bug fix adding more compatible phones while increasing overall stability.
But why must it be Instagram? Android users have had plenty of alternatives for months, even years, before today. Both Picplz and Lightroom have arguably better interfaces and smoother filter performance than Instagram, and each boast sizeable (if anemic) communities. The existence of Instagram is easy fodder for iOS advocates claiming that Android (devs and users alike) piggyback on the innovation, success and loyalty of the iPhone, scooping up its sloppy seconds whenever it can. If Android has such an enormous user base, why can’t it attract the type of groundswell passion that made Instagram such a revelation in the first place? Because unlike iPhone, each Android user has a completely different experience, from the quality of the camera to the size of the screen to the software overlay. This makes it far more difficult for developers to support their successful projects. That Instagram for Android exists at all, and is garnering such high praise so quickly, is a huge feat.
Looking at reviews of the app on Google Play, it has earned a 4.4 rating from over 35,000 reviews, an astounding number considering it has been live for just about 24 hours. For Instagram and its users, the addition of Android will do one thing: bring more great, mediocre and abjectly terrible photography to a large community already awash in all three. A great camera doesn’t make a great photographer, but the addition of Instagram into the Android ecosystem brings the platform one step closer to greatness.