Instagram private messages incoming: Snapchat battle imminent

Having seen the writing on the wall, Instagram appears to be preparing for head-on battle with the likes of Snapchat for social micro-networking supremacy on the smartphone. Reports today suggest that Instagram will be rolling out private messaging before too long, allowing people to send images and videos direct to one another without the pesky in-between of the public. Snapchat's mainstay, meanwhile, remains the self-destructing messaging market.

This information comes from so-called "well-placed sources" speaking with the likes of GigaOM where word of a new private messaging feature is just one part of the puzzle. These same sources suggest that a group-messaging service may be part of the equation, and that Instagram may enact the whole setup before the end of the year. While the possibility should be striking, you'll want to keep your hand on the "likely" dial until we see full official comment.

Meanwhile the folks at Snapchat responsible for watching the airways for the changing of the winds have seen cash in their future. Rumors this past week have suggested that both Google and Facebook may have offered the owners of Snapchat buyout amounts of billions of dollars in recent months. The chat app is one of thousands available for iOS and Android devices, but stands out as a surprise hit in its ability to instantly destroy messages after they've been viewed.

It would still appear that each of these breakout apps' ability to remain powerful exists in two realms: brand power and simplicity. While Instagram remains one of the most popular apps in the mobile universe, they've begun adding features like short videos and web-based profiles outside of the mobile ecosystem. Would pushing messaging add or subtract from their overall powerful singular experience?

Have a peek at the timeline below for more recent Instagram action to see how the app and its creators are bringing it through another month of massive popularity here near the end of 2013!