Don’t you love a company who turns on the people who has helped them to achieve what they’ve got right now?! Well, Instagram had done it once to its users, and now they’ve done it to the developers.
In the beginning, Instagram had realised quite early that if they want to grow as quick as they could, they needed to open their platform and provide an API (Application Programming Interface), through which third-party developers can get access to Instagram internal data and ultimately build cool applications on top of that.
This is how we came to know such great services such as Webstagram, Statigram, Prinstagram, Casetagram, Instacanvas, and Instagallery, and indeed many more apps on iOS and Android devices. Some of these services we use on daily basis, and others I have had privilege to collaborate with in the past.
Alas, with the newly updated Instagram Brand Guidelines – soon we will see these services to start disappearing, or at least if not their service – their name!
In this new guideline, under section ‘Naming Applications and Products‘, Instagram states the following:
Instagram developers may fairly and accurately indicate that their applications are compatible with Instagram, but may not use the Instagram trademarks in their own brand, or suggest that Instagram sponsors or endorses their product.
Name your product something that is unique and original to you
Use the convention “[Your App Name] for Instagram” to indicate that your product is integrated with Instagram
Design your own app icon that represents your brand
Use “Instagram,” “IG”, “Insta” or “Gram” in your app name
Use the Camera Logos, or the Instagram name or logo, in your app icon
Use the Instagram stylized font in your product or marketing materials
Notice the part where Instagram forbids the use of the word ‘Instagram’, ‘IG’, ‘Insta’ or ‘Gram’ in the third-party app’s name? This new restriction would kill just about all but a few third-party apps (web and mobile) that are currently using Instagram API! Their whole app marketing goes out the window too, any SEO, gone!
Apparently Instagram didn’t waste time to enforce this either. As Techcrunch has reported, Instagram have started sending email to third-party developers telling them about the new guidelines and no doubt forcing them to comply with it.
We appreciate your interest in developing products that help people share with Instagram. While we encourage developers to build great apps with Instagram, we cannot allow other applications to look like they might be official Instagram applications or endorsed or sponsored by us.
As we hope you can appreciate, protection of its well-known trademarks is very important to Instagram. For example, it has always been against our guidelines to use a name that sounds or looks like “Instagram” or copies the look and feel of our application. Similarly, as we have clarified in the new guidelines, use of “INSTA” and “GRAM” for an application that works with Instagram is harmful to the Instagram brand. It is important that you develop your own distinctive branding for your applications, and use Instagram’s trademarks only as specifically authorized under our policies.
Now, Luxogram might be ok with this, in fact if you go to their website now, you can see that the app is still in beta mode and in all honesty their logo does look very much like Instagram. For them changing name might not be too disruptive.
But, if you were, let’s say Webstagram, arguably the first and original Instagram web viewer (they were up and running even before the official API was released, and way way before Instagram even thought about having their own ), you would’ve been pretty pissed off, wouldn’t you? Here they are, going live for more than 2 years (almost as old as Instagram itself), building brand and audience, working hard to go up Google Page Rank, spend so much money for what ever they need to keep the site up – and along the way helping to create the community so that Instagram can enjoy what they have today (a billion dollar comes to mind)! Now suddenly the mothership says, practically ‘Thanks for all the work you’ve done for us, but we can stand on our own feet now, you may pack your things and leave us‘.
I would be really mad. I can imagine the trouble these developers will need to endure. First they need to find an alternative name for the app, God knows how hard it is to do that these days; and even if or when they can find one, the Domain Name might not be available for them! Not to mention all the inbound links they have enjoyed all through the years, all the works on SEO to get themselves up on Google Rank ladder. They will all be gone, they will need to work again from scratch with the new domain!
I supposed I shouldn’t be surprised, Instagram has been screwing its most loyal supporters time and time again ever since Facebook acquired them. This time it’s the developer’s turn.
I am hoping that IG would let some of the oldest apps to retain their name, it would be such ashamed to see them go, even if they would eventually come back with a different name.
What do you think about IG’s new regulation and how would you think this will impact our Instagram experience? Let me know in the comment.