Instagram Eyes Google's Android, Hits 27M Users

Apple's 2011 App of the Year, Instagram, is developing an Android App as its user base continues to balloon

Instagram, Apple’s reigning App of the Year, will expand to Google’s Android phones “very soon,” founder Kevin Systrom said at the South by Southwest conference on Sunday.

The photo-sharing app is only available on Apple devices at the moment, but Systrom said his company is testing a beta version of an Android app.

Systrom also announced that Instagram has reached 27 million users, nearly double the 15 million it announced in December.

Seeing as Android phones make up almost 50 percent of the smartphone market, according to market researchers at the NPD Group, an Android app should expedite that rapid growth.

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Since Instagram is app-only (meaning no website), it is reliant on smartphones and tablets for its users. Together, Apple and Android make up almost 90 percent of the smartphone market.

The rivalry between Google and Apple in the smartphone arena remains contentious, and late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was publicly contemptuous of Google, maker of the Android operating system. He described them as a “force for evil” in Walter Isaacson’s biography. (Don’t worry Google, Microsoft and AT&T fit that bill too).

One of the biggest reasons for Instagram’s growth is the ease with which users can share their photos on other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Users upload photos to Instagram and can then play with different filters before posting them. When posting, they can then instantly share the photo on any of the social platforms they have an account on.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Instagram is assembling a $500 million funding round. That should cover a lot more than an Android app.