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December 13, 2012

Boxing glovesSometimes you can find new ways to innovate simply by reading news headlines.

Over the past couple of weeks there’s been a firestorm in the Twitterverse after a change in policy from Instagram, one of the most popular mobile apps for photo sharing. As you may recall, Instagram was acquired by Facebook earlier this year. For reasons that aren’t exactly clear yet, Facebook decided to change how Instagram photos show up on Twitter; instead of showing up right in the tweet itself, Twitter users now have to click the link to the photo to see it on its own page. (Facebook’s version of the story is that they made the change either to provide a better experience for users, and pretty much everyone outside of Facebook thinks they’ll eventually put ads on those pages.)

What happened next was kind of interesting. Many tech and mainstream news outlets played the story with a bit of sensationalization, using headlines like “Instagram photos will no longer work on Twitter”. Users, many believing that they’d no longer be able to share their Instagram photos on Twitter (not true), panicked and started looking for other options.

In the wake of the story, Twitter announced that they’re releasing a new version of their mobile apps with a lot of Instagram-like functionality built-in. And yesterday Flickr announced a completely revamped version of their mobile app that also includes sharing, filters, and more, highlighting in a blog post that “your photos look gorgeous no matter where they are viewed, on or off Flickr”.

Here’s the thing: a relatively small change in policy from a photo sharing giant has caused what may be the next wave of innovation in that space. Twitter and Flickr listened to what users were saying, understood their frustrations, and did something to make their experience better.

What’s happening in your industry that your company could address? What frustrations do your customers have with your competition, and how can you provide some relief for them?

We see news of companies innovating every day. Will yours be next to make headlines and grab new customers?

Thanks to Kristin Wall for sharing the photo in this post with a Creative Commons license!

Justin is one of the developers at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

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