BII_SocialPhoto_SharingBIIThe digital camera feature has been a major driver of mobile phone sales for a decade.

But Instagram's sale to Facebook last year was a watershed moment for the mobile photo-sharing industry.

Among other things, it showed that a mobile-first photo sharing service could be worth $1 billion dollars, and that the app store economy could grow a photo-focused social network at speeds so alarming that an incumbent — in this case, Facebook — would be prompted to neutralize the threat by acquiring it

In this report, we'll take a fresh look at the mobile photo-sharing industry.

  • We'll look at data to see how Instagram has fared since Facebook closed its acquisition last September: In sum, it has done very well. User numbers, and photo uploads have grown robustly, and downloads of the Instagram app haven't flagged. 
  • We'll study a few rising competitors, including Snapchat: It's unique in being a closed network in which only an individual or a select few friends see your photos or "snaps," but that doesn't mean it should be overlooked. In terms of volume and usage, it's a monster. Snapchat already accounts for 28% of the top four photo-sharing services' total daily upload volume, more than Instagram and Flickr combined. 
  • BII ford instagramBI IntelligenceWe'll look at how mobile start-ups and established Web-centric businesses are monetizing camera and photo-sharing apps. There's an interesting trend toward Web businesses deploying a photo app as a consumer entryway, but monetizing usage later in the form of Web-based storage or back-end services, bypassing the app stores' 30% revenue take. 
  • And we'll highlight interesting opportunities for brands to use these engaging networks: Instagram's already a favorite with brands, especially now that it has caught the video bug, but Snapchat may signal a future for "private" brand-to-consumer communication. 

One caveat: While [...]