When Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday at a press conference in California that a video feature would be added to the popular photo-sharing app Instagram, which will inevitably compromise the success of the Twitter-owned Vine app, there was a past businessman that immediately came to mind with the move he pulled off to jump over his competition.
Steve Jobs practically spent his whole career trailing behind Bill Gates' Microsoft as the second best software company. That is, until 2001 came along. This year brought the creation of the iPod, the very device that forged the path to where Apple finds itself now: on top of the electronics universe with the second best overall brand in the world behind Coca-Cola.
Just call it the back door move. It's the maneuver that, just when it seems like a competitor has blocked you from finding success one way, can take a company above if they go a different direction. On Thursday, Zuckerberg may have accomplished that feat when he put his enterprise on the verge of a comeback just weeks after getting grilled at his first shareholders meeting.
Let's face it, it's been no secret that in overall popularity, Twitter had taken over the social networking world. The wealth has been spread out (with sites like Pinterest, Tumblr, etc.), but in terms of day-to-day, minute-to-minute use, expressing thoughts in 140 characters or less has been the online activity of choice. Facebook has twice as many accounts (1.1 billion, according to the Washington Post, compared to Twitter's 500 million, estimated by the Telegraph), but Twitter is the more frequently used site.
When ESPN is showing fan reactions at the bottom of your screen, it's Twitter they're using. When news shows pull up quotes from celebrities, it's from Twitter that they're fetching them. It's the culturally relevant platform. Facebook is, and probably will continue to be, no. 1 as the social networking site to have, but as the social networking site to use, Twitter is king.
So it's clear that, as a competitor, Zuckerberg had to find a solution to break up that monopoly and the way he's chosen to do so is clear and brilliant. What the iPod was to Apple may just be what Instagram is to Facebook now, putting Vine in the awkward position of being to Twitter what the Zune was to Microsoft (remember that?).
How fitting is it that Zuckerberg accomplished the move in such "Social Network"-ish fashion, using the very man who, according to MSN, interned for Jack Dorsey and founded Instagram while working for the Twitter founder. It's this type of cunningness that makes it impossible not to be reminded of this scene from the famous movie.
With the 29-year old looking reinvigorated in his fight for social media supremacy, it's clear now that the most important move Zuckerberg made in battling Twitter for relevance and ad dollars was purchasing Instagram for $1 billion in the first place in April of last year.
14 months later, after a significant dip in value for his company's shares, he has the chance to completely dominate the image-capturing game and use Instragram's success as a platform to revive Facebook. The greatest of back door moves.
Photo via Flickr