Instagram faces new challenge from Europe’s EyeEm app

Instagram is the darling of tech, and the king of all photo apps. It made its founders millions of dollars, and made each of us into top artistic photographers with just our iPhone.

Or so the story goes.

What that simplistic narrative ignores though is that Instagram is being pushed very hard indeed, and its competitor is not another Silicon Valley darling, but  a European start-up called EyeEm.

EyeEm is a Berlin based company, founded in February 2011. Like Instagram it offers filtering, sharing, and discovery of photos. It has surged from being 232 most popular free video and photo app on Jan 12th, to being the sixth on Sunday evening:

During that space of time it has reached as high as second in the chart.

The rise  of EyeEm comes on the back of furore around changes to Instragram’s Terms of Service. Indeed EyeEm blogged the other day that they were committed to users owning their own images. The rise has all mostly happened through word of mouth, and was generally ignored by the tech press.

EyeEm’s co-founder Florian Meissner told Techcrunch’s Mike Butcher that a lot of the impetus had come from a surge of support from a specific high school in Texas and that they are “currently seeing sign ups a day in six figures”.  Apparently some users are actually posting screenshots of EyeEm onto Instragram and Twitter (on which they have doubled their number of followers)!

Flickr long ago lost its spot as the place to upload photos other than Facebook, mainly due to some really terrible mobile apps. Since then the mobile photo space is really up for grabs. It also seems very susceptible to trend and fashion changes, partly because photos rely on the network effect less than other things. Photos taken in Instragram or EyEm can easily be shared with existing networks on Twitter or Facebook, so it doesn’t matter if all your friends are using the same photo app as you or not.
If EyeEm can sustain its challenge it will force others like Instagram to innovate and not take their customers for granted. That can only be good for users.

  • Dirk Singer

    As you say, a bit of competition can only be a good thing. It’s debatable whether users will be well served if Instagram locks in the kind of dominance in photo-sharing that YouTube has in video.

    Even though Instagram has pulled ahead again this week, for EyeEm to even be almost level pegging in downloads without the benefits of Facebook’s cash or the media exposure Instagram routinely gets is a huge achievement.

    Hopefully EyeEm – and also Hamburg based Tadaa which is doing well in the UK iOS App Store – will be able to use this latest growth phase to mount a sustained long-term challenge to IG.

    Finally, for what its worth, from a user’s point of view, I’m a fan. I think both the app and community are better on EyeEm and I recommend checking it out.