Is Concern About Lack of Instagram App on Windows Phone Much Ado About Nothing?

By Cameron Scott 

instagram, windows phone, nokia lumia, mobile apps, photo sharing, video sharing, vine, flipboard

Dean Pennala /

As Nokia today debuted its Lumia 1020, the flagship phone for the Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system, several social networks simultaneously announced that they would launch Windows apps.

The announcements were particularly focused on photo and video apps, in part because the phone features a 41 megapixel camera, 50 Nokia photo editing filters and its editing SDK. The device can also capture 1080p video at 30 frames per second.

In its announcement of a Windows app, mobile-only social network Path called the camera “the best on the market.”

“We at Path believe in the power of photography as a means of capturing memories. So we are delighted that Path users on the Lumia will be able to post photo moments that are even more vibrant than ever before,” the company said.

Twitter will launch Vine for Windows, the company said. And Flipboard has previously said it will launch a Windows app, in addition to those it offers for iOS and Android.

But what about Instagram, wondered commentators on several prominent tech blogs.

Err, what about it? Windows powers just 1 percent of the U.S. smartphones and 3 percent of smartphones worldwide. Even if Nokia’s new device speeds adoption of the Windows platform, Instagram has very little competitive risk in not getting its app on the devices right away.

Scoring an Instagram app would be a coup for Windows, but it the operating system would still lag far behind iOS and Android.

“Windows Phone really needs all of the ‘core’ mobile apps it can get, and not having Instagram is a hole in their app marketplace. If they get Instagram that will be a plus — it will make WP more relevant, but it won’t solve any of their longer term device/ecosystem issues,” said Brian Blau, the head of research at Gartner.

Does Instagram’s lack of app suggest it’s betting against Microsoft’s success? Unlikely, since CEO Kevin Systrom told Fast Company last month that he has no plans to build an app for the trendy Google Glass device before first building not just for Windows but also for the ailing Blackberry.

Recall, too, that Instagram launched its first Android app a year and half after unveiling its iOS app.

“At the moment, we are focused on building the best Instagram experience possible for people using iOS and Android devices. Our ultimate goal is to bring Instagram to everyone who wants to use it and we will consider other platforms over time,” an Instagram spokesperson said.

In other words, Instagram’s less-than-instant maneuvering is nothing out of the ordinary. It may hurt Microsoft a little bit, but it’s unlikely to hurt Instagram, which has continued to hold competitors at bay.

Of course, Instagram’s nearly KO’d competitor Hipstamatic hopes to leverage the opportunity it has to rule to the Lumia.

“The Nokia Lumia 1020 is the first time a hardware manufacturer has built a smartphone to be camera-first, and having the opportunity to build our software alongside this talented hardware team is exciting. We’re eager to continue building amazing camera products for the mobile community,” said Hipstamatic CEO Lucas Buick in a statement.

Instagram, however, is so unconcerned about Hipstamatic that it allows the company to use its API to post the photos they take using the competitor app to their Instagram accounts.