Instagram has just given a slap in the face to dozens of third-party apps that helped it grow. A recent update to Instagram's guidelines [http://help.instagram.com/304689166306603/] has been followed by emails to app developers, notifying them that they can no longer use "Insta" or "Gram" in their brand names.
Previously, although apps could not use the full word "Instagram" in their names, they were allowed to use one of its component parts, as evidenced by apps such as Instadrop, Webstagram and Gramfeed. Now they will need either to rebrand themselves or shut down.
Instagram wants to avoid any market confusion among its users. "We appreciate your interest in developing products that help people share with Instagram," read the email sent to third-party app Luxogram, according to TechCrunch. "While we encourage developers to build great apps with Instagram, we cannot allow other applications to look like they might be official Instagram applications or endorsed or sponsored by us."
Once dependent for growth on a robust community of independent apps, Facebook-owned Instagram clearly feels now that it has grown large enough to continue moving forward under its own steam. TechCrunch reported earlier this week that Luxogram, which serves one million monthly users, will likely shut down permanently rather than make the changes.
For Luxogram and others, Instagram's new protectionist policy is a reminder that no matter how collaborative the U.S. tech community appears to be, it's still a highly competitive space. There will always be winners who climb the ladder -- usually with the help of others -- and then pull it up after them.
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