The relationship between Instagram and competitor Mobli, a photo- and video-sharing app out of Israel, has been a rocky one. Today Instagram blocked Mobli’s access to the Instagram API, effectively making users choose between the two. For the last 18 months, Mobli users could upload their Instagram content to their feeds with one click. That’s no longer possible.
Here’s what Instagram has to say about it:
The company did not express why it blocked off access now, considering Mobli has been using the Instagram API for quite some time.
Mobli is a much smaller app with more than 12 million users, whereas Instagram is home to more than 150 million users. But Mobli, the underdog, actually has more features, boasting video-sharing functionality long before it was available on Instagram or Vine. Still, why would Instagram cut off a competitor with such a small user base?
Well, Mobli also has a list of celebrity endorsers and over $84 million in funding, at an estimated valuation of around $1 billion. It’s a familiar figure for Instagram, which Facebook bought for $1 billion.
And while Mobli lags in users, it has one thing that Facebook and Instagram do not: América Móvil.
América Móvil is the fourth-largest wireless provider, based out of Mexico City, and also happens to be owned by billionaire Carlos Slim. Slim led a $60 million investment in Mobli less than a month ago, and plans to integrate Mobli onto América Móvil handsets as part of that investment.
Mobli has also said that South America accounts for a double-figure percentage of its user base. The company confirms that the roll-out with América Móvil is underway now, but has not been carried out completely.
Here’s what Mobli had to say about Instagram’s API shutdown:
We respect every platform’s right to do with its platform as it sees fit. We believe in the user’s right to control his content and creation and therefore commit to continuing to enable users to do with their content as they see fit. We are working diligently to create a user experience by which users will stay at Mobli because they want to.
To be fair, Mobli hasn’t always played nicely. The company ran an anti-Instagram campaign in March that paid users to quit Instagram. And at the same time, Instagram’s history isn’t necessarily loaded with generosity of spirit. Remember when the company turned off Twitter cards integration to push folks toward Instagram.com?
It’s a rough world out there for a social media startup.