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Posts Tagged ‘mobile platforms’

Dual Interface Mobile Devices To Address BYOD Issue

November 27th, 2012 11:46 admin View Comments

Cellphones

Lucas123 writes “Next year, smart phones will begin shipping with the ability to have dual identities: one for private use and the other for corporate. Hypervisor developers, such as VMware and Red Bend, are working with system manufacturers to embed their virtualization software in the phones, while IC makers, such as Intel, are developing more powerful and secure mobile device processors. The combination will enable mobile platforms that afford end users their own user interface, secure from IT’s prying eyes, while in turn allowing a company to secure its data using mobile device management software. One of the biggest benefits dual-identity phones will offer is enabling admins to wipe corporate data from phones without erasing end users profiles and personal information.”

Source: Dual Interface Mobile Devices To Address BYOD Issue

Microsoft’s Hidden Windows 8 Feature: Ads

November 8th, 2012 11:00 admin View Comments

Advertising

MojoKid writes “Despite the fact that I’ve been using Windows 8 for the past three weeks, I somehow managed to overlook a rather stark feature in the OS: ads. No, we’re not talking about ads cluttering up the desktop or login screen (thankfully), but rather ads that can be found inside of some Modern UI apps that Windows ships with. That includes Finance, Weather, Travel, News and so forth. On previous mobile platforms, such as iOS and Android, seeing ads inside of free apps hasn’t been uncommon. It’s a way for the developer to get paid while allowing the user to have the app for free. However, while people can expect ads in a free app, no one expects ads in a piece of software that they just paid good money for.”

Source: Microsoft’s Hidden Windows 8 Feature: Ads

Survey: Tablet Owners Prefer Browsers to Native Apps

June 20th, 2012 06:42 admin View Comments

Browser or app: Which is a better way to reach readers on mobile platforms like iOS and Android? Publishers and developers haven’t been shy about offering their opinions, but what about the people who actually use the devices? Among tablet owners, at least, reading on the mobile Web is preferable to using native apps, according to a recent survey from the Online Publishers Association

Forty-one percent of tablet-bound readers prefer reading on the Web, compared to the 30% who would rather launch a standalone app from a specific publisher. Aggregated news-reading apps like Flipboard and Zite rated surprisingly low on the list. 

Last month, Jason Pontin, editor of MIT Technology Review, wrote a widely read takedown of native apps, citing Apple’s steep revenue share and the technical and design challenges associated with producing such apps. 

“But the real problem with apps was more profound,” Pontin wrote. “When people read news and features on electronic media, they expect stories to possess the linky-ness of the Web, but stories in apps didn’t really link.”

On the other side of the debate is Wired publisher Howard Mittman, who champions the app-centric approach that his magazine has adopted. 

Many publishers have found that approach problematic. Apple’s infamous 30% subscription revenue cut prompted the Financial Times to abandon its iOS apps and instead focus on developing a cross-platform Web app written in HTML5. 

“I’ve seen Apple’s results,” FT.com Managing Director Rob Grimshaw said at the PaidContent 2012 conference last month. “It seems to be working for Apple. I’ve also seen some publishers’ results, and it’s not working for publishers.”

Evidently, the native-app approach is not working for readers, either – at least, not as well as the Web. FT has seen an increase in readership and paid subscriptions since going the HTML5 route, Grimshaw said. 

Native apps do offer potential advantages in terms of the reader’s experience. They can be more immersive and lack some of the design limitations of the Web. Still, in far too many cases, apps created by publishers end up being little more than digital reproductions of the print product with a few bells and whistles tacked on. 

From the reader’s standpoint, it makes sense that the Web would be a popular option for tablet reading. After all, there’s much more content there, and it’s intricately linked together. A digital magazine can offer a refreshing escape from the anarchy of the Web, but it’s only a matter of time before readers find it necessary to return to a browser. 

The OPA report contained other revealing data about tablet users. Overall, tablet ownership is surging. The devices have become “deeply embedded” in users’ lives, 74% of whom use them daily. Tablet owners are using the devices primarily to interact with content of various kinds, and most (61%) show a willingness to pay for it.

 

Source: Survey: Tablet Owners Prefer Browsers to Native Apps

Survey: Tablet Owners Prefer Browsers to Native Apps

June 20th, 2012 06:42 admin View Comments

Browser or app: Which is a better way to reach readers on mobile platforms like iOS and Android? Publishers and developers haven’t been shy about offering their opinions, but what about the people who actually use the devices? Among tablet owners, at least, reading on the mobile Web is preferable to using native apps, according to a recent survey from the Online Publishers Association

Forty-one percent of tablet-bound readers prefer reading on the Web, compared to the 30% who would rather launch a standalone app from a specific publisher. Aggregated news-reading apps like Flipboard and Zite rated surprisingly low on the list. 

Last month, Jason Pontin, editor of MIT Technology Review, wrote a widely read takedown of native apps, citing Apple’s steep revenue share and the technical and design challenges associated with producing such apps. 

“But the real problem with apps was more profound,” Pontin wrote. “When people read news and features on electronic media, they expect stories to possess the linky-ness of the Web, but stories in apps didn’t really link.”

On the other side of the debate is Wired publisher Howard Mittman, who champions the app-centric approach that his magazine has adopted. 

Many publishers have found that approach problematic. Apple’s infamous 30% subscription revenue cut prompted the Financial Times to abandon its iOS apps and instead focus on developing a cross-platform Web app written in HTML5. 

“I’ve seen Apple’s results,” FT.com Managing Director Rob Grimshaw said at the PaidContent 2012 conference last month. “It seems to be working for Apple. I’ve also seen some publishers’ results, and it’s not working for publishers.”

Evidently, the native-app approach is not working for readers, either – at least, not as well as the Web. FT has seen an increase in readership and paid subscriptions since going the HTML5 route, Grimshaw said. 

Native apps do offer potential advantages in terms of the reader’s experience. They can be more immersive and lack some of the design limitations of the Web. Still, in far too many cases, apps created by publishers end up being little more than digital reproductions of the print product with a few bells and whistles tacked on. 

From the reader’s standpoint, it makes sense that the Web would be a popular option for tablet reading. After all, there’s much more content there, and it’s intricately linked together. A digital magazine can offer a refreshing escape from the anarchy of the Web, but it’s only a matter of time before readers find it necessary to return to a browser. 

The OPA report contained other revealing data about tablet users. Overall, tablet ownership is surging. The devices have become “deeply embedded” in users’ lives, 74% of whom use them daily. Tablet owners are using the devices primarily to interact with content of various kinds, and most (61%) show a willingness to pay for it.

 

Source: Survey: Tablet Owners Prefer Browsers to Native Apps

The Facebook Phone: Why Facebook Has to Try, and Why It Will Probably Fail

June 7th, 2012 06:00 admin View Comments

Facebook views itself as more than a social network. It aspires to be an operating system for the Web, or a platform in the mold of those built by Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft. So as the computing world shifts toward mobile, Facebook would be foolish not to claim as big a stake as possible. That means more than just apps: It means a Facebook phone.

Why Facebook Must Make a Phone

The main argument for a Facebook phone is this: With a bunch of mobile apps and half a billion mobile users, Facebook is already one of the biggest mobile services. But to become a mobile platform – exponentially more valuable than a service – it needs more. Thus, the recent reports that Facebook is trying to figure out a phone.

Facebook’s PC-based platform has helped drive huge increases in its membership, value and revenue on the plain old stationary Web. It has given Facebook the power to force big developers like Zynga to exclusively use Facebook’s payments service for in-game transactions. And it has enticed thousands of media and technology companies to build their own membership bases on the back of Facebook’s login system.

In the mobile environment, though, Facebook is only part-way there. Some aspects of its platform work fine on mobile devices. Some, in theory, work great, like quickly shooting and uploading photos without a computer (thus, Facebook’s new photo app and pending Instagram acquisition). But developers aren’t building huge games on Facebook’s mobile base. They’re using Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, Microsoft’s Windows Phone, Amazon’s Android-based app platform and their respective payment tools.

To become one of the top mobile platforms, Facebook then needs to compete with Apple, Google and Microsoft for the attention of phone buyers, carriers and developers. It needs to build a phone platform that’s significantly better than its competitors. And it needs to do this despite having little experience with operating systems and mobile platforms.

It’s a big problem, but pretending Facebook isn’t ambitious enough to tackle it would be selling Mark Zuckerberg short. If Zuck is today’s Bill Gates, why wouldn’t Facebook build the next Windows?

The reward, by the way, could be huge. The smartphone market is still less than one billion units per year and set to grow dramatically over the next decade. It’s unrealistic to assume that Facebook’s phone business could be nearly as profitable as Apple’s, but if it were to generate even $100 in profit per device, a tiny percentage of the mobile market could amount to billions per year. And if Facebook hits the jackpot and creates the next big thing in mobile, device sales could easily outpace Facebook’s advertising business.

The odds of this happening are low. But given Facebook’s size and ambition, why not try?

How Facebook Could Make a Great Mobile Device

Cloning the iPhone with Facebook blue everywhere is probably a bad idea. But I’d like to believe that someone at Facebook, or someone Facebook hired, could come up with a novel and useful idea for a mobile device that people would pay for and use.

One idea I like is the notion of a connected, social camera, floated by Dave Winer. Why a camera? Winer writes, “Because that’s really what it’s about, photos and videos. And that’s a much more wide-open, and still largely untapped[,] market… I don’t doubt that the guys at Facebook see this too. And if they see it, how could they not be making it.”

Amazon’s Kindle is a huge hit and has sold millions of units because it does one thing – delivering e-books – better than anything else. If, somehow, Facebook could build a social, connected camera that’s so good it’s worth owning in addition to a phone, that could be a hit. This isn’t obvious, but it’s not impossible, either.

Think of other things people buy and own that aren’t phones and could be more connected and social. Watches? “Quantified self” exercise wristbands? What could Facebook do here?

Or, taking a different tack, how could Facebook be disruptive on the service side of the mobile equation? Could it offer cheaper smartphone service than Apple or Google phones have access to? Free texting to your Facebook friends? Free access to all Facebook services? The carriers wouldn’t let Facebook get away with anything too crazy, but perhaps there’s room for something interesting enough to justify buying a Facebook phone for your kids.

Why Facebook Will Probably Fail

I am optimistic enough to think it’s worth it for Facebook to try, and keep trying, to do something in the mobile platform industry. Facebook is big enough that it can experiment in important new areas. Especially in a market that’s as big and lucrative as mobile. As long as Facebook isn’t reckless with its spending, it should try.

But what you always hear about hardware, that it’s such a tough business, is true. It’s one thing to develop a nice, functional mobile product. It’s another to build a great business on it. Ask the folks at Palm, whose Pre was arguably the second nicest phone after the iPhone and nonetheless forced Palm to sell sooner and for less money than it would have liked. (Also: Imagine if Palm were for sale today. Wouldn’t that make a great little acquisition for Facebook?)

Apple is so successful in mobile because it is the best in the world at software, hardware, apps, media, marketing, retail and the supply chain. Facebook lacks expertise in all of these areas. A few of them alone won’t generate the right balance. It takes all of them to thrive.

Another challenge: Facebook is accustomed to making many small, incremental changes over time. It is constantly redesigning its products, rolling out updates here and there to batches of users. In hardware, it doesn’t work that way. You need to build something that is rock-solid, ready to ship and will last a long time, and then update it infrequently.

Perhaps this is why Apple has been less successful than Facebook with Web- and social-based products: It’s not constantly tinkering with them. But it’s also why Facebook could have a tough time designing a mobile platform.

The One to Watch

Mobile will be a particularly interesting and meaningful challenge for Facebook. The company is already discovering that mobile advertising is very different than Web advertising. It could be a much bigger opportunity for Facebook than the PC, or it could be much smaller. If Facebook can crack the mobile hardware or platform world, it could really pay off.

Mobile has the potential to make Facebook far more relevant than it is today, or it could be Facebook’s great equalizer. The next few years will tell the tale.

Also: Why Facebook Terrifies Google

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Source: The Facebook Phone: Why Facebook Has to Try, and Why It Will Probably Fail

Mobile Marketing Set to Create Havoc and Opportunities

May 18th, 2012 05:32 admin View Comments

Procter & Gamble should be kicking itself for not developing a mobile operating system when it had the chance: More people worldwide own mobile phones than toothbrushes. Get ready for a tsunami of mobile marketing and commerce to crash on the shores of retail.

The beauty of mobile devices from a marketing perspective is that you can reach consumers at a more personal level – right in their pockets. The Holy Grail of marketers used to be a home telephone number and address. Direct mail and telemarketing, despite being some of the most hated forms of advertising, are historically effective. Now mobile takes marketers closer to consumers than direct mail ever will.

But mobile isn’t just one marketing channel. It’s several. Think about how you use your smartphone. You use apps, you search the Net, you visit websites. You text friends and family. 

“The challenge for global brands in mobile is finding relevancy to the various activities a consumer may be performing at any given time.  The misconception is that mobile is a new marketing channel, when in reality it is several new channels, all with vastly different implications for brand marketers,” said Jeff Peden, CEO of Boston-based local advertising startup Crave Labs.

The trend toward mobile marketing and commerce is significant, and it’s only going to grow. According to research firm Deloitte, 19% of merchants said they plan to invest $100,000 or more on mobile platforms. The money will go toward building apps, delivering through the various marketing channels that mobile affords and providing services for other businesses. About 22.5% of businesses are seeing the most traction in business-to-business mobile solutions while 33.7% are gaining mobile momentum in the business-to-consumer sector. Overall, 37% of enterprise companies have seen significant impact on their top and bottom line revenue through mobile.

Reaching consumers is a big part of the game, but it is only a start. The goal is to generate transactions. This is where relevance comes in. How do marketers achieve relevance through mobile?

“Tying into the context of the consumer (location, time of day, et cetera) improves relevancy in these cases,” Peden said. “In the case of search, brands should be directing consumers to the closest place of action, turning that immediate local intent into a physical transaction. In other modes, such as gaming or video, the content of an ad has to be just as rich and compelling as the app in which it’s running.”

These observations aren’t just theoretical. Nearly 29% of consumers who research a product in a retail location through a smartphone end up purchasing that product online. Mobile commerce is expected to be a $163 billion market by 2015. Companies that focus on mobile solutions for consumers will reap the greatest reward. Procter & Gamble could sell more toothbrushes if it used a location-aware price comparison app for shopping lists. Amazon has been a leader in price-comparison shopping and its strength in m-commerce should only grow as the ecosystem expands and smartphone users come to rely on their devices’ in-store utility.

The infographic below, courtesy of Deloitte, serves as a rough map to the biggest m-commerce opportunities for developers, brands and retailers. 

Click here for a larger version of the infographic.

Source: Mobile Marketing Set to Create Havoc and Opportunities

First Look: SoundCloud Gets an Overhaul

May 9th, 2012 05:02 admin View Comments

The growth of SoundCloud has been astonishing. In only three years of existence, the social sound-sharing service has blown past 15 million users and now has more than 100 employees. It’s quickly becoming a sort of “YouTube for audio” with a massive selection of sounds from arists, podcasters and others.

Today, the company announced the next iteration of its Web app, an effort its dubbing the Next SoundCloud. The redesign, which is currently in private beta, is a substantial visual overhaul with a few new features tacked on. 

Just over a year ago, SoundCloud boasted that it had reached its three-millionth registered user. Today, that number stands at over 15 million and the growth is continuing unabated. Earlier this year, the company raised $50 million in venture capital funding, money that will undoubtedly be poured into rapid innovation and growing its team. Recently, the company has put much of its focus on converting its default audio player to HTML5 and developing innovative apps for mobile platforms like iOS and Android. 

SoundCloud has played an active role in advancing the future of music and audio, not just through updates to its own product, but through active involvement in Music Hack Day and other developer-centric initiatives around the world. 

The new design borrows liberally from the company’s mobile products and presents things in a much cleaner, app-like fashion. “Every single element on the page has been revisited,” said SoundCloud cofounder Eric Wahlfors at a press event in San Francisco today. 

In addition to significant visual changes, the new SoundCloud fundamentally alters the way users interact with sounds hosted on the service. Crucially, the site will feature a universal player bar across the top of the layout, which ensures continuous playback of songs regardless of where one navigates on the site. This is a feature SoundCloud currently lacks, and it’s a much-welcome enhancement. 

The service is also becoming more share-friendly. In addition to its existing social features, such as “liking” and timed comments, SoundCloud will now have a retweet-style sharing button, which allows users to post any sound they find on the site to their own profile. It may seem like a basic feature, but its impact could be huge. Thanks to the update, having one’s bedroom-produced demo unexpectedly reshared on SoundCloud by Snoop Dogg is suddenly a possible reality. The implications for independent, budding musicians and other soundsmiths are nothing to underestimate.

 

One other notable feature being rolled out in the private beta is what SoundCloud is calling “sets.” These are essentially user-curated playlists of sounds that exist in a single waveform. 

The team confesses to releasing this “uncomfortably early” and fully expects a bump or two in the road toward releasing it publicly. To take the new site for a spin, sign up for beta access at next.soundcloud.com.

  

Source: First Look: SoundCloud Gets an Overhaul

First Look: SoundCloud Gets an Overhaul

May 9th, 2012 05:02 admin View Comments

The growth of SoundCloud has been astonishing. In only three years of existence, the social sound-sharing service has blown past 15 million users and now has more than 100 employees. It’s quickly becoming a sort of “YouTube for audio” with a massive selection of sounds from arists, podcasters and others.

Today, the company announced the next iteration of its Web app, an effort its dubbing the Next SoundCloud. The redesign, which is currently in private beta, is a substantial visual overhaul with a few new features tacked on. 

Just over a year ago, SoundCloud boasted that it had reached its three-millionth registered user. Today, that number stands at over 15 million and the growth is continuing unabated. Earlier this year, the company raised $50 million in venture capital funding, money that will undoubtedly be poured into rapid innovation and growing its team. Recently, the company has put much of its focus on converting its default audio player to HTML5 and developing innovative apps for mobile platforms like iOS and Android. 

SoundCloud has played an active role in advancing the future of music and audio, not just through updates to its own product, but through active involvement in Music Hack Day and other developer-centric initiatives around the world. 

The new design borrows liberally from the company’s mobile products and presents things in a much cleaner, app-like fashion. “Every single element on the page has been revisited,” said SoundCloud cofounder Eric Wahlfors at a press event in San Francisco today. 

In addition to significant visual changes, the new SoundCloud fundamentally alters the way users interact with sounds hosted on the service. Crucially, the site will feature a universal player bar across the top of the layout, which ensures continuous playback of songs regardless of where one navigates on the site. This is a feature SoundCloud currently lacks, and it’s a much-welcome enhancement. 

The service is also becoming more share-friendly. In addition to its existing social features, such as “liking” and timed comments, SoundCloud will now have a retweet-style sharing button, which allows users to post any sound they find on the site to their own profile. It may seem like a basic feature, but its impact could be huge. Thanks to the update, having one’s bedroom-produced demo unexpectedly reshared on SoundCloud by Snoop Dogg is suddenly a possible reality. The implications for independent, budding musicians and other soundsmiths are nothing to underestimate.

 

One other notable feature being rolled out in the private beta is what SoundCloud is calling “sets.” These are essentially user-curated playlists of sounds that exist in a single waveform. 

The team confesses to releasing this “uncomfortably early” and fully expects a bump or two in the road toward releasing it publicly. To take the new site for a spin, sign up for beta access at next.soundcloud.com.

  

Source: First Look: SoundCloud Gets an Overhaul

The Real “Mobile First” Companies

April 27th, 2012 04:01 admin View Comments

Mobile first. It is a stratgey that many companies strive toward but only a handful fully realize. Big names like Facebook, Amazon, Mozilla and Microsoft delve into the mobile pool but still provide fundamentally desktop and browser-based offerings. Google components, even with its Android operating system, are still primarily Web-centric. When it comes to true “mobile first,” there are only a handful of companies that have taken the plunge.

The Top Tier of Mobile First

Think of an app or a service and how you interact with it. Do you use it primarily with your smartphone and/or tablet, or is it something you use with your PC? Chances are, you still do most of your Google searches, Facebook posts, Amazon purchases and Windows (including Bing) activities on your computer. These tasks come from browser-based companies, all of which even make their own browsers (except for Facebook, and Amazon’s browser is its Kindle Fire-based Silk). 

From a consumer perspective, the top mobile-first companies are all app-centric. These companies provide services that could be done from a PC but provide the service specifically for mobile platforms. Examples include reading news, watching videos, social networking, photography, location and check-ins, and many other similar services. Right now, the top tier of mobile-first companies are the ones that understand that the mobile experience is fundamentally different from a PC experience – and then develop and design their services specifically with mobile interactions in mind. 

The best consumer mobile-first companies (in no particular order):

Twitter was also under consideration for this list. Twitter started as a way to disrupt text messaging within a social context, but has evolved into much more than that. Ironically, Twitter growth means that it no longer really qualifies as a mobile-first company. 

The common theme for first-tier mobile-first companies is that they typically do not have a meaningful Web presence. Path was designed specifically to be a mobile-only social network. Instagram evolved into one after beginning as a photo-sharing service. There is no significant Foursquare Web presence. Flipboard, Zite and Pulse have redefined how news is aggregated and read in the mobile era. LevelUp and Dwolla are attempting to create mobile-first payment infrastructures from the local level. Lookout is a unique security company that focuses on mobile, and Dolphin is a major mobile-only browser. 

Then we have games. The explosion of mobile has given rise to the independent gaming studio. Rovio, Halfbrick and ZeptoLabs are top mobile-first game publishers, and OMGPop had a big mobile hit with Draw Something before it was acquired by Zynga (which is not a mobile-first company by any stretch). 

Facebook, meanwhile, may have the most-used mobile app of all time, but that doesn’t make it a mobile-first company. Facebook’s core tenets are the browser and the social graph. Mobile is the sauce on top of its desktop-centric steak. While Facebook’s head of mobile developer relations James Pearce said that, “if Facebook were built now, it would be a mobile app,” the fact remains that it was built eight years ago and is firmly entrenched as a browser-based system. 

Note that we are not counting manufacturers in this discussion. That precludes companies such as Nokia, Research In Motion, HTC and Motorola – all of which build mobile devices and, in one way or another, have mobile-first services. 

On Background

In addition to the consumer-centric mobile services, we also have to look at the platforms used to build and run these apps. (Let’s leave enterprise mobility out of the discussion, for now.): 

We can call these platform-makers “background” companies, because the average consumer has no idea they even exist. Operating in the background, they provide tools designed to enable mobile-first development. That includes frameworks, Integrated Developer Environments, SDK and API providers, analytics and engagement specialists, location, testing and cloud-service providers. 

The top mobile-first background companies include (in no particular order):

There is a lot of overlap here. Many of these companies provide one core service but also branch out into services that are considered the core offerings of other companies on the list.

Flurry is one of the go-to analytics services for a large swath of app developers. Localytics plays in that space, as well. StackMob, Kinvey and Parse are mobile cloud-service providers (Backend as a Service), a space that Appcelerator, Sencha, appMobi and Zipline also inhabit. Zipline is interesting as an environment and cloud-service provider specifically for games built with Lua programming language. DeviceAnywhere provides a “device cloud” for testing purposes. Sencha, appMobi and Appcelerator provide tools for building apps, with appMobi and Sencha focusing specifically on HTML5. PlayHaven is an engagement and analytics dashboard for gaming. Flurry and Apsalar also focus on mobile app-user engagement. Geoloqi provides a platform for persistent background location services. Crashlytics is one of the most innovative companies looking into app testing. 

Note that we did not include the major platform providers: Google, Apple, Microsoft and RIM provide tools to develop for Android, iOS, Windows Phone and BlackBerry, respectively. Google, Microsoft and Apple are not mobile first by any stretch, and RIM’s current troubles preclude it from being on any list of best companies.

We recognize that these lists are incomplete. Anytime we compile lists of the best anything, someone is going to feel slighted. We regret any omissions, and invite everyone to add their thoughts in the comments and let the ecosystem know about important Mobile First companies, apps or services that didn’t make our lists.

Lead image and image of smartphone courtesy of Shutterstock.

Source: The Real “Mobile First” Companies

How Instagram Imagery Is Transforming

April 24th, 2012 04:14 admin View Comments

In the world of social media, “celebrity” is a combination of social status and social media presence. The more likes you receive, the more “popular” you appear to friends and followers.

Up until its acquisition by Facebook, Instagram was the current site of social media celebrity. As it becomes yet another Facebook app, the photography will most likely change from what was once street photography, landscapes and architecture of early users, to the social, people-oriented imagery that floods Facebook on a daily basis.

“Early Instagram users were more production-oriented,” says Zachary McCune, a researcher in social and mobile platforms whose early work on Instagram dug into the types of imagery that users shared. “It was more of an art practice rather than a camera utility.”

He notes that at this time last year @instagram‘s popular page images had 30-60 likes. Today, they have 500-3,500 likes.

Interestingly, the big genre that hasn’t gone away – and which pioneered early Instagram user communities – is #streetphotography. “All the people who had early followers on Instagram had that style of photography,” McCune says.

These photos are the candid, authentic-feeling images shot with an iPhone while strolling through New York, Chicago, Paris. And before the other week, Instagram was available on iPhone only.

“The iPhone is flâneurial,” McCune says. “It’s in your hand, it’s multipurpose, you can be responding to a text message while snapping a photo, so it’s also the surreptitiously arresting, incredible moment. The mobile phone wants to take the quick and quotidian image.”

One can liken the early Instagram images to those of 20th-century French photographer Eugène Atget. Those once-striking images of the city alive are turning into socially focused shots of young parents and their children.

Not all of these early Instagram communities will disappear, however.

The proliferation of most popular tags such as #iphoneonly and #nofilter point to the retention of a high-art oriented crowd that doesn’t need a filter to make their photos feel fresh.

But where there is purity, there is also popularity – and more specifically, celebrity.

Justin Bieber Recreates Kazimir Malevich, Becomes the Most Popular Instagrammer of All Time

Best known for his 1915 painting “Black Square,” Kazimir Malevich founded Supermatism, a movement about geometric forms, especially circles and squares. Such imagery has seen a resurgence in modern-day tattoo culture and, apparently, the Instagram feed of Justin Bieber http://web.stagram.com/n/justinbieber/. In fact, it is the most-liked photo, according to Webstagram.

“So pure fame is still the straightest shot to popularity on the 30 million-user service, even though the general perception of Instagram – until it got bought by Facebook – was that it as this indie thing, where a certain kind of aesthetic or brilliant capture of an OMG moment might achieve a kind of triumphant popularity on its own merits in this rarefied little world,” writes Matt Buchanan of Buzzfeed. “What are the self-portraits of Bieber and Gomez but icons of fame itself, after all, affirmed by their armies of likers?”

Over on Instagram.heroku.com, an app made by @mislav, visitors can search the most popular images on Instagram by filter type and keyword. Similarly, populagram.appspot.com filters out the app’s most popular images. This popular image from user exapstagram has a total of 401 likes. The most popular location is Jakarta, Indonesia, which hosts 713 photos on Populagram alone. On Webstagram, the current most popular photo has received 9,424 likes and 469 photos. It is an image of a woman’s hand with pink nails, leopard print bows and geometric shapes. Users are in love, posting hearts, thumbs up and expressions like “Cute :)”.

Images via Wikipedia and Web.stagram.

Source: How Instagram Imagery Is Transforming

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