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Instagram photo app for Android is under way

Android folks who feel shut out of Instagram's popular photo effects and sharing network will be able to join--and that'll help the company attract advertisers, CEO Systrom says.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland
2 min read
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom speaking at LeWeb.
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom speaking at LeWeb. Stephen Shankland/CNET

PARIS--Instagram has risen to popularity in the photo-sharing realm just with an iPhone app, but Chief Executive Kevin Systrom today said an Android version is on the way.

"We have two people working on Android now," Systrom told attendees of the LeWeb conference here, though he didn't say when the work would be done. "I'm excited to be able to see our numbers today nearly double."

Instagram, which lets people apply various special-effects filters to photos and share them with their friends, has a notable 14 million to 15 million users so far on iOS, the company said. It has plenty of competition from other apps, and potentially from powers such as Facebook and Apple itself, but Instagram has a solid position by virtue of its sharing network.

That membership will be important, as the company looks to make revenue and profits through advertising.

"I think the advertising experience is going to be extremely engaging," Systrom said. "It's much harder with text," but Instagram offers photos, and brand names such as Audi, Kate Spade, and Burberry have joined Instagram.

"They're sharing pictures of products and the message of their brands. That shows we're at the beginning of what will come with brands," he said.

In part to make Instagram more compelling for advertisers, the company is concentrating on getting more users. "We're only at the tip of where we want to be," in terms of users and activity, he said.

"Obviously, we didn't start a business to not make money," he said. "Our focus now is on growing the network. You really need to build up the network, or no advertisers care."

The company launched on the iPhone first just because at the time, that's what the company's founders had. But the iPhone 4's photographic performance was an important part of the company's success, he added.

"The screen and the camera on the iPhone 4 really was a turning point. It was really disruptive," Systrom said. "Somebody had to come along and take advantage of that disruption."

Updated 11:23 p.m. PT to correct the number of Instagram users.