Several weeks ago after Instagram was released for Android I tried it out, and while I thought the app was well done and had some nice features, I was a little unhappy with the engagement of other users. The service, like too many others (Facebook, twitter for the most part) are heavily reliant on the user bringing their own following or building one through self promotion. I decided to try some other services for Android around the photo sharing concept.
The best of them, by far, was lightbox.com. The Android App was really well written, the website fully featured and best of all there was an easy mechanic to recommend users for you to follow and in turn gain followers back. It was easy to “like’ and comment on photos and with very little effort other than my photography skills in a few short weeks I had nearly 900 followers and more than 2000 “likes” along with a host of comments. I looked forward to posting my photos and seeing people who enjoyed looking at them and commenting on them.
Then today as I drove home my wife mentioned a message on the lightbox web site. They have “joined Facebook” which is apparently code speak for the development team was hired by Facebook and they are shutting down the service effective June 15th. Here is a link to download your pictures. What I read was “Thanks for your support, get your photos and go the *($#!@ away now.”
I am bitter about it because they (the founders of lightbox) snuffed out a fantastic product to go be part of a already too big collective that probably only hired them to eliminate their product in the first place. The engagement on Lightbox was geometrically greater than photo engagement on Facebook and other social media and now it is no more. I’m happy that they found employment at one of the largest social media companies in the world and I hope they do well financially because someone should prosper for the killing of a really great service for photography enthusiasts on the internet. For it to be snuffed out by a massive collective seeking to eliminate all competition in the mobile channel should benefit someone, it certainly doesn’t benefit the internet users at large.
I hope Thai Tran & Nilesh Patel enjoy a long career at Facebook because I will never again knowingly support any project in which they are involved. I fully support their right to follow the money, but sometimes the most lucrative decision isn’t the best decision.