This Christmas, Instagram gets millions of photos & more users

Kevin Systrom - CEO, Instagram at Mobilize 2011Instagram, the San Francisco-based mobile photo-sharing service, saw huge spikes in both its usage and number of new users this holiday season, thanks to brisk sales of Apple’s iOS-based devices such as the iPhone. Being named as the app of the year by Apple(s AAPL) only helped accelerate the mobile app’s adoption.
I first started seeing increased Instagram activity on my own account about two weeks ago. I saw a sharp jump in the number of folks following my photo feed and more importantly, more interactions (likes, comments) on those photos. I also started seeing a lot of links being shared by folks on Twitter. Intrigued, I emailed Kevin Systrom, CEO and co-founder of Instagram. This is what he wrote back:

Coupled with being iPhone App of the Year – new activations of iPhones on Christmas definitely gave Instagram a bump, though we’re not releasing publicly how much of a bump. Sorry I can’t be more specific, but things are going well!

The last officially reported user base of Instagram is about 15 million, a number that Systrom revealed in early December at the Le Web  conference in Paris. At our Mobilize 2011 (held in late September) conference, Systrom said that the company was adding a new user every second and had about 10 million people using the iOS-only photo-sharing service.
As we reported earlier, this has been a really good Christmas for Apple. For the first three weeks of December, between 1.3 and 1.8 million devices powered by iOS or Android(s GOOG) were activated each day, according to Flurry Analytics. Fiksu, a Boston-based mobile app user acquisition company announced Wednesday that the “swell of new iPhone 4S users, combined with iOS 5 app updates, generated escalated app discovery activity and peak download volumes for the top 200 apps.”
Here are some of my previous posts about Instagram: