If you haven't heard of Aviary yet, you will soon. That's because the New York-based startup, backed by millions of dollars from Jeff Bezos's personal investment vehicle, Bezos Expeditions, is helping both Twitter and Flickr catch up with Instagram.
Twitter, in an attempt to get its users to post photos directly with its app rather than use Instagram, added photo filters powered by Aviary's software.
Flickr, Yahoo's photo service, has also updated its app with photo filters from Aviary. It started using Aviary's photo-editing software on its desktop website earlier this year, after Google acquired Picnik, Flickr's previous provider of such tools.
Aviary makes money by charging partners like Twitter, Flickr, and Walgreen's for using its tools in their websites and apps.
By the way, while Instagram's filters are an interesting feature, we think they have almost nothing to do with why people start using and keep using the app.
Despite what CollegeHumor suggests in its otherwise spot-on music video about self-obsessed Instagram users, filters are less about artistic pretension and more about letting users compensate for bad lighting and other flaws inherent in taking photos with smartphones, without having to know a lot of technical photography terms.
Instagram's speed and simplicity for sharing—it's faster to share a photo to Facebook on Instagram than it is with Facebook's own app—and its incredibly addictive feed of new photos from friends are what matters.
So it's great for Aviary that everyone who wants to be a player in mobile photo sharing thinks they need to have Instagram-like filters. It can be like an arms dealer on a war-torn continent. Meanwhile, Instagram users will just keep clicking.
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