In a surprise and unexpected move, Facebook has launched “Camera,” a standalone photo application distributed for free through the Apple App Store.
The timing is interesting since just last month Facebook paid $1 billion for young start-up Instagram, an app that does just that.
Similarly, by launching yet another standalone application, Facebook could be sending a message to its battered investors that the social network is ready to break itself down in standalone applications (Facebook Messenger, Facebook Pages) in order to conquer the share of mobile advertising that it has been unable to transfer from its online platform Facebook Ads.
Like most Facebook appropriations (remember the social network’s attempt to kill up and coming location-based Foursquare with the launch of “Facebook Places”?), “Camera” takes Instagram’s idea of applying filters to photos before sharing them and takes a step further by allowing users to upload multiple pictures at once as opposed to one by one.
It is unclear why Facebook would try to compete against itself with an application that offers a service similar to the one offered by the company it just bought for $1 billion. Equally disturbing is the fact that “Camera” was developed without help or assistance from the Instagram team, as the deal “hasn’t been completely closed.”
Whether users will stop using Instagram to jump on the “Facebook Camera” bandwagon is yet to be seen. Maybe there’s a market big enough for both apps to thrive and bring Facebook twice the success. The most likely outcome, though, is that the larger-than-life social network will end up killing its own Instagram-style experiment (like it did with “Places” just one year after its launch) as Instagram users will probably remail faithful to the growing mobile art phenomenon.