Instagram learns hard way it is not indispensable
Published 20/12/2012 | 05:00
STEVE Jobs famously hated focus groups, believing that he knew what people wanted before they even realised it.
When it came to the iPad in particular, experts lined up to tell him there wasn't a market for tablet computers.
Two years and almost 100 million sales later, it's fair to say he was right.
Sometimes, however, a company needs to listen to its customers. The Instagram debacle this week has been a prime example of that.
The outcry has been enormous: many users have deleted their accounts in protest, and now the company is desperately rolling back on its plan, telling users it "never intended" to sell their picture for ads.
Instagram has discovered that, big as it is, it is not an indispensable tool for most people. Photo-sharing apps are legion at this stage.
Facebook, which bought Instagram earlier this year, can get away with stunts like this because there is no real alternative for keeping in touch with friends online. Instagram cannot.
Steve Jobs hated focus groups, but he also knew when to cut his losses and kill a product (the G4 Cube, anyone?). Instagram is learning this lesson in the harshest possible way.