This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
We have written a number of times about the absurdity of the fanboy wars and the absolute viciousness with which people attack each other over something as trivial as that person's choice in mobile phone. It is and forever will be nothing more than a choice. Some people prefer Apple, some prefer Android, some even prefer bada or Windows Phone or even BlackBerry, yet because someone's personal preference is different than yours, apparently that means everyone has free reign to slander, degrade, and mock. We think it is appalling, but no matter what, it will continue happening right below our words, in the comment threads, because as far as fanboys are concerned, there is no option for civility, objectivity, and rational discourse on the Internet. It is disgusting, but never more so than with the introduction of Instagram on Android.
Instagram made its debut on Android just two days ago
, and as of yesterday it had already shot into the 1 million to 5 million download
bracket in the Google Play Store. It was always expected that Instagram would be a hit on Android just as it had been on iOS, but this was a huge launch. There had been no real warning, no announcement, just a sign-up page that never ended up doing anything, and the app was dropped into the Play Store on a Tuesday morning. There were those who didn't care all that much, because of the alternatives already available on the platform, but in general, users were pretty pumped for the release... Android users that is.
Following the release on Android, Twitter exploded with anti-Android sentiment. Whether genuine or fueled by silly hipsterism, the messages relayed the same idea: Instagram was going to be ruined by all of the poor people who own Android phones. There have been hundreds, if not thousands of messages saying things like "Instagram on Android... ew..." or this gem by @TheBoy_Prince saying, "Instagram on Android is mad dirty it used to be special now it's just gross". There are plenty more, but we have no interest in supporting them by linking or reposting them here.
We have all seen the various studies that claim that the average iPhone user is more wealthy, educated, well-traveled et cetera, et cetera, while Android users tend to be poorer. Of course, this is to be expected given that until the launch of the iPhone 4S, there was no "free" iPhone. This lower-end market is the exact reason why Android was able to eclipse Apple as far as overall market share so quickly. Add that to the general perception that Apple products are for rich people, because of the overall higher cost across devices, and we can certainly understand where the sentiment gained its roots, but that doesn't make it any more acceptable to stereotype an entire group.
The way we see it, technology is the great equalizer of the world. Yes, there is always a delay in new technology making its way from the more affluent early-adopters to the masses, but once that happens, everyone is put on more equal footing. At first, the Internet was relegated to a small segment of society, and now everyone in the world can find their way to the web, and many do so with mobile devices as their primary connection. The Internet is booming in Asia, Africa and South America because mobile reduces the barrier to entry. This means we truly are living in a more globally connected world, free to share anything from knowledge to pictures with various filters put on them.
And, that's really the most annoying part about this. What makes Instagram so special that it will be sullied by the arrival of Android users? We commend the Instagram developers for cultivating such a fervent following, but the reality is that it's nothing more than a camera app with some filters that relied very heavily on existing social networks to build its own. Obviously, the app is doing something right given that it has somewhere north of 30 million iOS users, and now somewhere from 1 to 5 million Android users. Of course, Instagram is also seeing a general pushback from Facebook users whose feeds are being overwhelmed with Instagram pictures.
The two main successes of Instagram are:
- Auto-sharing to social networks, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr (with Flickr coming soon), and
The auto-sharing, as we've just mentioned, is something of a double-edged sword. It has helped to grow the network by getting the pictures tons of link juice via Facebook and Twitter, but the pictures are beginning to get tiresome. And that, is directly because of Instagram's #2 success: the filters. Filters are a genius idea because they make everyone think that they are an amazing photographer, and that their pictures are somehow far more interesting because it looks like it has been laying in a shoebox for the past 40 years. The truth is that an interesting picture is what makes an interesting picture, not a slight sepia tone slapped on to another picture of your dinner or your pet.
The ultimate failure of Instagram can be easily seen just by flipping between your follower feed and the popular feed in the app. The popular feed for the most part is made up of the truly interesting pictures with good composition, intelligent use of filters, and interesting subjects. Your follower feed, and by extension Facebook and Twitter, are filled with the same boring pictures people always take, but now they think you'll love them and find the photographer to be so much more artsy, because they added on the "toaster" filter.
We can't really imagine what exactly will be ruined by the addition of Android users to Instagram, but of course there's no logic in bigotry. It's just blind, intolerant, and brings us all down. Fanboys of all camps can be a nasty bunch, but sometimes, as in this case, there is a much more pervasive evil among more casual users of certain platforms. The perception seems to be that Apple users are rich elitists, and Android users are essentially poor, unkempt hobos. It saddens us enough about the state of Internet discourse and web culture to have to try to do our jobs objectively with the molten hate spewed by fanboys and trolls alike (sometimes there isn't much difference between the two), but the responses that are still flowing on Twitter about Instagram is something that makes us sad about humanity in general.