Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) photo sharing site, Instagram, has sent a mysterious letter to reporters, inviting them to attend a media event in New York on December 12.
CNET received one of the Instagram invites, which came via FedEx, not email. The invite consisted of a square wooden block with a printed Instagram photo on it and a slot in back so the photo can be hung on the wall. Attached was a note inviting members of the press to “share a moment with Kevin Systrom and the Instagram team.”
Instagram obviously isn’t answering any questions about the event right now, as the company wants to build anticipation for its mystery announcement.
The most recent rumors to come out of Instagram involve the possibility of the site developing its own messaging service, similar to Facebook messaging but possibly involving photos. CNET speculated that the method of delivering the announcement suggests that Instagram could be introducing a way for users to print their photos.
Earlier this week, TechCrunch received an anonymous tip that Instagram had created user emails using user handles and @instagram.com. An attempt to use those emails resulted in an error message but did not indicate that the email addresses don’t exist. Instagram could have created the email addresses as a step toward developing a messaging service that would presumably allow users to send photos to each other through the site.
Facebook also instated email accounts for its users when it updated its messaging service in 2010. Having an email address attached to a messaging service is a way to keep users engaged with a specific platform and also provides the messaging service with more functions, including the ability to sync email with messaging.
After Facebook’s $3 billion offer was turned down by Snapchat last month, it’s possible the social networking giant could use Instagram to create a rival photo messaging service to Snapchat. Instagram’s current large user base and the fact that it has already monetized its mobile platform would put its service a few steps ahead of Snapchat from the get-go.
It’s possible that Instagram could announce both a messaging service and printing in advance of the holidays, but we’ll have to wait until December 12 to find out.
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