As Instagram continues to make moves to strengthen its platform with more features to keep users visiting it and staying longer, Instagram’s decision to kill off its feed API on June 1 has claimed another victim: Flipboard today confirmed that it will not be able to provide Instagram integration for the majority of its users after May 31.
While Instagram has claimed that feed API usage is relatively small, there are some notable companies being affected. In addition to Flipboard, IFTTT noted earlier that its users’ recipes will also be impacted.
Flipboard falls into that category of relatively small usage: the company tells us that between two and three percent of its users have connected Instagram to Flipboard to view feeds or to run in Magazines. Of all the people who have liked or commented on an item on Flipboard in April, only 5.7% of them liked or commented on content from Instagram on Flipboard.
But the bigger picture is the message that this sends to users that apps like Flipboard, which have positioned themselves as a go-to place for content consumption; or services like IFTTT, which let you magically create little apps to execute regular commands, simply are not as universal and convenient as they used to be.
Flipboard says that this change will affect users in a few different ways. For starters, Flipboard users will no longer be able to log in to Instagram via Flipboard (which allows users to integrate a number of apps to use them from there to share and repost content). Flipboard also says that Instagram feeds users follow on Flipboard will also no longer show content, “which includes Instagram searches, hashtags and individual accounts.” The Instagram tile will be removed from Flipboard completely on June 30.
It notes that Instagram posts can still get manually flipped into Magazines on Flipboard through the web — specifically via a bookmarklet on the desktop Web — or with “copy link” from within the Instagram app. But they will no longer be able to get “likes” or comments that will show up on Instagram — they will live only on Flipboard. You can, of course, still just add pictures from any other photo app to Flipboard.
There will be a small exception to all of the above: Select top publishers who create Magazines on Flipboard will continue to be able to use Instagram content on their Flipboard. One example, Flipboard tells me, is National Geographic, which owns the copyright on its Instagram posts and has a direct relationship with Facebook’s photo-sharing app.
The moves are part of a bigger shift at Instagram to create more services on its own app as it strengthens its platform as a business, and also looks to create an audience of its own that is not just passing through or using its photos elsewhere. This has included plans to add business profiles and contact buttons. And, it seems, possibly an option to pay to boost posts as you do on Facebook itself.
While Flipboard and IFTTT are some of the more notable services affected by this change, Instagram’s decision to limit API usage also has an effect on its mobile app ecosystem, impacting smaller developers. This includes apps like Retro, Flow, Padgram and Pictacular for iPad, plus Webbygram, Webstagram, Instagreat and Itsdagram for desktop, for example.
Even the newcomer Being, which saw a promising 50,000 downloads in its first week, found it was soon cut off. Despite the fact that Being’s users added tens of thousands of “likes” to Instagram’s service, and followed tens of thousands of accounts, Instagram doesn’t want other apps to serve as the entry point to consuming its content.
Instagram’s decision is not without an element of risk. Twitter took a similar path several years ago by telling developers to stop building third-party clients. Today, Twitter has stagnant user growth. That’s not entirely due to its squashed app ecosystem, but the move certainly didn’t help.