The reams of Facestagram coverage threw up a couple of interesting metaphors which I really liked. Nicholas Carlson's recent piece on Business Insider uses the phrase quoted here in the title to describe the fine line for entrepreneurs (particularly those with a disruptive product or service) between successfully changing the dynamics of a market and being trampled on by large incumbents. I'm not sure that I agree however, with the thrust of the article that Instagram was an app built on the incumbent's turf and "just as easily as Facebook bought Instagram, it could have crushed it in a second". There's plenty of idiosyncrasies about Instagram that, whilst not making it wholly incompatible to Facebook, made it feel sufficiently distinctive to distinguish it in both feel and character from anything Facebook-like.
One such distinctive characteristic was around how well it did what Brad Frost called 'focused creation, ubiquitous distribution'. Platforms that are native to mobile, he says, are now a perfectly viable starting point for new products but whilst Instagram is an example of what Fred Wilson calls mobile first, web second, it is the ease and ubiquity of distribution of Instagram pictures on the web (including on Facebook) that has helped to spread the charm and appeal of the app. The fact that for so long it was only available on iOS merely added to this appeal. 'Focused creation and ubiquitous distribution', it seems, is a great way to equip yourself to 'run between the toes of giants'.
HT to Dan for pointing me at Brad's post.