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:

Instagram now growing faster than Flickr

Three days ago I took a look at how many new photos users added on Instagram each day. By looking at the ID numbers of the photos I calculated that Instagram had now reached beyond 500 million photos and that about 4.5 million new photos were uploaded per day. Then I found a blog post from Instagram that summarized last year and in the post it says that at the end of 2011, 400 million photos had been shared in total on Instagram. This confirms that my calculations were pretty accurate (the 400 millionth photo was uploaded on Dec 7, 2011).

If we look at the volume of photos during January 2012, users added approximately 4.5 million photos each day to Instagram. This seems to be confirmed by the statistics from Instagram, that says that the average number of photos uploaded per second at the end of 2011 is 60, or about 5.2 million per day.

Steady growth for Flickr
Now, if we look at the growth of Flickr, it seems that it continues to grow at about the same speed as it has been doing for the last couple of years. Official figures from Yahoo claim that users upload about 4.5 million photos per day to Flickr. But in reality, I believe it is slightly lower than 4.5 million. The 6 billionth photo was uploaded on August 1, 2011. Today, there are 6.7 billion photos on Flickr, which means that on average during the last 5 and a half months, users have uploaded 4.2 million photos per day to Flickr (724 million photos in 172 days).

In other words, Instagram is now growing faster than Flickr. Between 4.5 and 5.2 million per day for Instagram, compared to 4.2-4.5 on Flickr.

Here are two graphs describing the development and you can follow the links below for more stats and links to different milestones.

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Instagram may reach 1 billion photos in April


Steady growth for Flickr as it reaches 6 billion photos

Instagram may reach 1 billion photos in April

Instagram, one of my favourite apps, is growing like crazy. In September last year, I noted that users had uploaded 200 million photos, which meant that the growth rate in August was about 50 million photos per month. Now, it seems that users are adding the same number in just 11 days.

According to my calculations, Instagram passed 500 million photos on Jan 2, 2012 and 550 million on Jan 13. That means that 4.5 million photos are uploaded each day to Instagram and at that speed 1 billion photos will be reached about April 20, or possibly sooner if the service continues to add new users.

If you want to check the dates of the different milestone photos used in the graph above, follow the links below:

07-16-2010: 2

11-19.2010: 5000001

02-09-2011: 25000002

04-09-2011: 50000000

19-06-2011: 100000000

02-09-2011: 200000000

29-10-2011: 300000001

07-12-2011: 400000000

02-01-2012: 500000000

08-01-2012: 525000000

13-01-2012: 550000000

Some even numbers are not available, I suspect because they are private (or have been deleted). The ID’s of the milestones have been recovered by using Statigram and There’s no guarantee that the ID numbers from theses sites are an accurate reflection of the total volume, but previously this way of counting has proven to be quite accurate.

Footnote: I’m @kullin on Instagram.

Flickr reaches 5 billion photos

The photo sharing site Flickr just reached 5 billion photos this morning. Here is a link to photo number 5 billion, a photo of Woodward’s building in Vancouver, taken by Aaron Yeo:

Update: Since it became known it was the 5 billionth photo, Aaron Yeo has decided to share the Woodwards Collage picture with a CC license. So here it is:

Woodwards Collage

Despite the fact that social networks like Facebook have become popular places to share photos, it seems that the growth of Flickr continues at the same pace as during the last 3 years, adding about one billion photos per year. (Facebook claims that users uploaded 2.5 billion photos per month, in February 2010.)

I have been tracking the dates when Flickr has passed different milestones and calculated the graph below. Although Flickr seems to be handing out id numbers to each photo somewhat randomely, for example, the graph below has an id number just below 5 billion although it was uploaded after the photo mentioned above, it still seems to be pretty accurate.


Previous milestones for Flickr:

22 Oct 04: 1,000,000
20 Apr 05: 10,000,000
15 Feb 06: 100,000,000
22 Sep 06: 250,000,000
15 May 07: 500,000,000
19 Jul 07: 850,000,000
06 Oct 07: 1,500,000,000
13 Nov 07: 2,000,000,000
17 May 08: 2,500,000,000
03 Nov 08: 3,000,000,000
04 May 09: 3,500,000,000
11 Oct 09: 4,000,000,000
18 Sept 10: 5,000,000,000

Update: Flickr has confirmed on its blog that the site has now reached 5 billion photos.