Launched in 2010, mobile-only photo sharing app Instagram instantly gained popularity because of its ability to take unique, high quality pictures and share them on the web.
It grew from 1 million users in January 2011 to 15 million by December. It has since doubled its user base to 30 million in the past four months, Business Insider reports.
This massive growth was recognized by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who recently announced his purchase of the product for $1 billion in cash and stock.
Zuckerberg discussed the reasoning behind the purchase decision in a recent Facebook post, while also explaining how he plans to keep Instagram independent from the social network.
"For years, we've focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we'll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests," said Zuckerberg. "We're committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people."
He added that he plans to maintain Instagram's ability to post to other social networks besides Facebook, "building on Instagram's strengths and features" instead of simply trying to integrate everything into the social platform.
The move adds a level of simplicity to photo sharing on Facebook - a feature that has become increasingly prominent on the site with the addition of Timeline. Pictures are now larger and shown in higher quality to better tell a user's life story. On the Facebook iPhone app, a user needs to navigate through six screens before actually being able to take a picture. With Instagram, there will be just one.
Forbes explains that the purchase was also made as a strategic tactic to divert users from Pinterest, the popular pinboarding site that has skyrocketed in popularity over the past year, amassing more users than LinkedIn and driving more traffic than Google+.
The news source calls Pinterest a "Facebook-on-training-wheels," so by purchasing Instagram, Facebook has created a roadblock for further Pinterest expansion, creating increased competition for visual-based users.
Facebook may also attempt to market its Instagram capability as "better than Pinterest," and by linking Instagram and Facebook accounts, the social network's massive user base will have less of a reason to also share photos on Pinterest.