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Is Instagram planning to introduce a print-on-demand platform?

Instagram has an event planned for next week in New York, although the Facebook subsidiary is staying mum on exactly what it has up its sleeve. 

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    What's next for Instagram?
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Instagram has sent out invitations to a Dec. 12 press event in New York. 

Like Apple, which likes to play coy with its press invites, Instagram isn't saying exactly what it will show off at the event. The only hints are the invite itself – a "wooden block.... covered with a printed Instagram shot and a slot in the back to it can be hung on the wall," according to CNET – and the accompanying text: "share a moment with [co-founder and CEO] Kevin Systrom and the Instagram team." 

So what exactly does Instagram have up its sleeve? Well, according to GigaOm, it could be a private messaging system, in the mold of the ones already available on Twitter and Facebook. Back in late November, Om Malik of GigaOm spoke to at least two "well-placed" sources that told him Instagram was, in addition, "experimenting with the idea of group messaging." 

That would make sense, Malik continued: "With the holidays around the corner and smartphones as likely hot gift items, many people are going to experience Instagram for the first time and they should perhaps start with a brand new experience. Instagram also is in a battle for attention with newer visual services such as Snapchat, which was rumored to have received a $3 billion buyout offer from Facebook, the corporate parent of Instagram." 

Another possibility: A service that would allow users to easily print out images from Instagram. As Salvador Rodriguez of the Los Angeles Times notes, third-party Instagram printing sites are already plentiful – it makes sense that Instagram would try to get in on the action. Moreover, Rodriguez adds, "starting a photo-printing service would create another form of revenue for Instagram, which this year began displaying ads within its app."

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