The dramatic growth of Instagram – reaches 5 billion twice as fast as Flickr

In just a little more than two years, Instagram has gone from zero to 5 billion shared photos. The popular photo sharing app announced yesterday that it had surpassed 80 million users and 5 billion photos uploaded by its users. As a comparison, it took Flickr 4 years and 7 months to reach 5 billion photos. Instagram has reached that milestone in less than half that time.

Growth in recent months has been fuelled by the release of an Android app, which went live in April 2012.

“The combination of Android and network effects as more people use Instagram mean that we’re able to grow faster now more than ever,” Instagram creator Kevin Systrom told VentureBeat in July.

To illustrate just how fast Instagram has been growing, I made the graph below based on photo ID numbers (up to 550m, when Instagram changed how photos were identified) and official statements (4bn and 5bn).

instagram growth chart sept 2012

If you want a graph with the individual data points, click here instead.

Here are the sources for each of the data points in the graph.

For a similar graph of Flickr’s growth from zero to 5 billion photos, see this blog post.

Note: I am @kullin on Instagram if you’d like to follow me.

Has traffic to Pinterest plateaued?

There has been an incredible hype over Pinterest during the last six months or so, to the extent that many claim it is a must for business marketers. While I have no problem in seeing benefits with the site, a word of caution might be in place. The site grew extremely fast for some time, but will this growth continue or will users leave the network once they tried it a few times?

I don’t know, but take a look at the three graphs below. Although there is reason to be careful with reading too much into this statistics, it sure does look like traffic to Pinterest has stopped growing as fast as it did in early 2012, or even stopped growing at all. What do you think, are you using Pinterest as much as you did six months ago?

DoubleClick Ad Planner:

pinterest traffic graph adplanner

Google Trends:

pinterest traffic graph google trends

pinterest traffic graph alexa

Instagram has changed the way it gives ID numbers to photos

In January I published a blog post about the growth of Instagram. I hade noticed that the unique ID numbers for photos on Instagram were handed out in a serial sequence. In other words, it wasn’t very hard to calculate the growth of the service since the data was publicly available. All you had to do was a bit of digging. For example, here is photo number 400 million:

Update: the links to Statigram no longer work

A few weeks later, on Feb 7 to be precise, Instagram changed the ID numbers from serial sequence to what looks like a random set of numbers. As of this date, the ID numbers are determined with what I believe is called a hash function (please correct me if I got this wrong). It is no longer possible to determine the volume of uploads to Instagram by simply looking at the ID numbers.

So how do I know this changed on Feb 7? Take a look at the Instagram user “boobievsjagger“. On that day, he posted this photo:

According to the first part of the unique ID, this is photo number 686,008,000. The second part of that string is the ID for that user.

Later that day he published another photo:

The first part of the ID is now replaced with 18 digits that gives us no clue to what number among the uploads this photo has. The same goes for all other images posted after Feb 7.

I predicted in my January post that Instagram would reach 1 billion uploaded photos by April this year. If you ask me, I think Instagram changed the way each photo is identified after my blog post, which was also picked up by The Next Web, among others. So now we can’t tell how fast Instagram is growing, until the company decides to tell us themselves. Let’s wait and see.

A related question is if the ID numbers for members on Instagram also will change. As it looks now, you can tell that Instagram has at least 27 million users. Here is a friend of mine that just joined: