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article imageIs Instagram launching private messaging app, image printing?

By Jessica Zuzierla     Dec 11, 2013 in Technology
New York - Instagram is holding a mysterious press event Thursday, but the invites contained no clues about the event topic, which has the tech world in a panic, speculating whether Instagram will unveil a private messaging app, or an Instagram printing service.
Instagram sent invitations to a number of high profile media outlets that asked journalists to “share a moment” with the popular social photo-sharing site.
Received last week by most, the Instagram invites asked the journalists to attend a “press event” on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013 in New York City, NY, according to CNet. With no known event details, tech analysis have speculating at the event’s topic.
Mysterious invites
The mysterious nature of the wording of the invites, the way Instagram sent them, and what some were made of has the entire tech world in a panic trying to figure out what news Thursday’s event will bring.
TechCrunch reports its receipt of a paper Instagram invite, which came via FedEx, and that:
“Other invites were a block of wood with pictures printed on them, with a hanger on one side to hang on the wall.”
CNet — the first media outlet to report on the invites — confirmed receipt of a paper Instagram invite on December 5 via FedEx, saying that:
“The package, wrapped with brown paper and a white ribbon, contained a wooden block, 4 inches long and wide and 1.75 inches thick, covered with a printed Instagram shot and a slot in the back so it can be hung on the wall.”
Screenshot of Invite block with printed photo.
Screenshot of Invite block with printed photo.
Mashable also confirmed receipt of an Instagram invite via FedEx, and their report published a photo of the block that some media outlets received with the paper invites. You can see an example of the block invitation in the screenshot above.
Private messaging or physical image printing?
Mashable thinks that Instagram has “something up its sleeves,” because the photo-sharing company recently unveiled their video sharing app in much the same way, the report said.
Example of Instagram video sharing in use on Android smartphone.
Example of Instagram video sharing in use on Android smartphone.
Instagram Press Photos
Some features Mashable believes the app will sport include real time messaging, image editing, conversational imagery, private Instagrams, and disappearing Instagrams after a set number of minutes or hours.
CNet’s initial invite report noted that they could not get Instagram to elaborate on their event plans, but instead speculated the company would be introducing a private messaging service for its photo and video apps. A more recent CNet report reiterates the same speculation, but adds they will be live blogging from the NYC event.
A Gigaom report confirms CNet’s speculation. Gigaom also noted that it has “well placed sources” that claim Instagram is unveiling the private messaging app as a way to expand their appeal to its more than 200 million active users.
Gigaom also speculates that the unveiling is the prelude to a new Instagram version, which they expect Instagram will unveil by the end of the year.
While Gigaom, CNet, and Mashable all agree on what they think Instagram will unveil at the event tomorrow, TechCrunch has an entirely different idea as to the event topic. TechCrunch speculates that:
“If that isn’t a hint toward printing, I don’t know what is.”
This thought is logical, especially when looking at the block with printed photos, and the paper invites — and the variety of services out there that already provide Instagram printing using a variety of mediums.
Screenshot of InstaThis.com available mediums for ordering Instagram photo prints. Mediums include w...
Screenshot of InstaThis.com available mediums for ordering Instagram photo prints. Mediums include wood, aluminum and coasters.
InstaThis.com, for example, offers their printing services on wood and aluminum for $25 each and on coasters, which cost $5 per coaster or $20 per 4-pack.
InstaThis.com is one of a number of services that offer physical Instagram printing services, but today’s age of Internet use would make Instagram's potential foray into the world of offline image printing counter-intuitive.
Example of Instagram Photo Maps in use on Android.
Example of Instagram Photo Maps in use on Android.
Instagram Press Photos
Whether Instagram will indeed unveil a private messaging application or a printing service, their ability to keep the event topic under wraps so well for so long is a highly sought-after skill, one from which mobile device giants such as Samsung could learn, considering their announcements and press events are always leaked.
Instagram has unveiled numerous features previously, though, many of which were not accompanied by a press event — Instagram's photo map sharing feature, for example.
Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the Instagram video sharing feature at the last event, and since he is not going to be at tomorrow's event, the press event may not be an unveiling at all. Unless of course Instagram is going to compete directly with Facebook, which is what a private messaging function would do...
In any case, no matter what Instagram unveils, we will just have to wait until tomorrow for their official word straight from NYC, and you can expect an update at that time.
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