December 06, 2013

The IRL Filter: Is Instagram Branching Out into Print?


If there’s one particularly exhausting trend that’s come out of Silicon Valley, it’s the teaser. Before every product launch, there’s a hint about what’s Coming Next and everyone on the Internet goes wild with speculation. Sort of like what we’re doing with this article. But we digress: Instagram has decided to continue in this long tradition of guess-trolling by sending out a print invitation to members of the press: “You are invited to share a moment with Kevin Systrom and the Instagram team – December 12, 2013.”

Share a What?

For those wondering what it means to ‘share a moment’ with Instragram co-founder Kevin Systrom, the phrase is a riff on Instagram’s corporate speak. It’s one of their brand’s catchphrases, meaning, in this instance, “Be here at this time, please.” Many have now begun speculating that given the nature of the invitation (mailed on paper), this could be Instagram’s announcement that they’ll be getting involved in the print arena.

In fact, if that isn’t what Instagram’s announcement is about, someone from their marketing department should get fired. Why else would a digital photo filter-adding and distribution platform remind people about the beauty of an actual, physical, IRL (in real life) object?

Print is the New Digital

Those decrying this potential move to print are really missing the point. Instagram’s brand is about convenience, sharing and adding cool filters that make everyone look thinner and less acne-ridden. Moving to print would open up a great, niche market for Instagram. “You like this photo of your espresso with a milk maple leaf? Then you’re going to love it as an 8x12 glossy.” Plus, when Instagram gets your credit card information, the door is open for future monetization. It’s a brilliant move, if you think about it. Well, maybe.

The Seduction of Print

It’s also possible that the vanity of the Instagram team has gotten the better of them in this case. Other sanctuaries of the young and hip, such as Grantland and Pitchfork, have recently gotten into the print business. It’s clearly being done to send a message that their writing is Serious and they’re Serious Writers, rather than for monetary reason. While the nature of Pitchfork’s inaugural issue is still somewhat vague, Grantland has just gone ahead and printed columns by their writers that exist on the website right now. A subscription to the next four volumes of Grantland Quarterly costs $80. Plus shipping, we imagine. Speaking of a product tease, where’s an Amazon delivery drone when you need one?




Edited by Stefania Viscusi



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