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Ourview | A walled social network

Ourview | A walled social network

The website is fighting back. With a mammoth $1 billion offer that the developers would have found impossible to refuse, Facebook has acquired an application that can essentially be used to take and share photographs on mobile devices. To be fair Instagram does a little more than just shoot photos —you can also apply a plethora of filters, many of them terribly retro, that help to make even the most mundane pictures of babies, trees or pasta pop with life and intrigue.

In a sense the app is a self-contained, almost completely walled in social network. Which might seem limiting in this age of convergence: where the same content is available on your desktop, mobile, television set, tablet and so is the next big thing.

So why did Facebook, with its behemoth of a website, millions of users and vast traffic pounce on Instagram with such vigour?

Because websites don’t matter as much any more. Even with such limited platform presence Instagram has some 35 million users. These users sustain an entire content ecosystem that exists exclusively within a single application. And this is a trend that is set to grow. Already there are several HTML5 mobile apps that make websites irrelevant. Content producers are beginning to realize that there is merit in disintermediating: why ask people to come to a website when you can pump in the content directly into custom-made apps or containers on mobile devices? Suddenly the Internet is no longer the destination, but merely a conduit sucking from servers and feeding into apps.

For firms like Facebook and Google this is terrible news. And they are prepared to pay any amount of money to get into this new game. Or at least get the competition out of it.

Is the “end" of websites a premature prophecy? Tell us at

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