Instagram updated its app today making it possible for users to directly message each other as depicted above. After taking a photo, you can pick whether you want it to go to your followers or to be direct.
The move is a huge challenge toward Snapchat, as now the company has a direct, entrenched rival.
GigaOM previously reported that Instagram is looking to boost its success with over 200 million users to include "private messaging features" and is also playing with the idea of integrating "group-messaging."
In more recent news, AllThingsD reported, "Instagram has invited reporters to a press event in Manhattan on Dec. 12" with no details about what the event may be.
We speculated like many saying that, "It could mean a Christmas upgrade is in order. Instagram, looking to maximize downloads in a time where many people will be receiving new smartphones as Xmas presents, might spring for the new messaging feature."
The move is an intelligent play against Snapchat who recently turned down some 3 billion dollars in an offer from Facebook. Google also reportedly leaped at the chance to buy the quick-and-disappearing picture service at 4 billion bucks.
Seems like an interesting development, but Instagram may do better to have preserved its slick, minimal interface that so differentiates from other social networking apps. Time will tell.