Sharing your memories used to involve an analog camera, a roll of film that you would take to your local supermarket for processing, and then slapping the final results inside a photo album that you’d show off to friends and family whenever they popped by your flat. Now, in 2011, all of that has changed thanks to smartphones with high quality cameras that snap an unlimited amount of photos and then upload them for the world to see in just a few seconds. The image sharing application space is hot, and two firms just got funding to help them expand. Instagram, the popular tool for hipsters who think applying a vignette filter to whatever photo they capture somehow increases its artistic value by an order of magnitude, scored $7 million worth of funding from Benchmark Capital. Path, somewhat like Instragram, but with an artificially imposed cap of having just 50 friends versus the 1,000+ people you may or may know from the internet yet they’ve somehow managed to become your Facebook buddy, received $8.65 million in funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Index Ventures and Asian VC firm Digital Garage Japan. Both applications are available exclusively for the iPhone.
Are we in a bubble? You’ll hear a lot of skeptics asking that since neither of these companies have done anything particularly innovative, they’ve just slapped a highly polished user interface on top of what’s essentially an email with attachments that you may have sent out a decade ago when digital cameras got cheap enough to become mainstream. Who am I to rain on anyone’s parade, but you’ve seriously got to ask yourself if those funds were better suited to go into something that could actually educate children, fix healthcare, or help us live a more economical lifestyle by reducing waste and making more informed decisions?