Facebook's acquisition happened so quickly that no one else, including Google, could get in on the bidding, according to Business Insider. While Google cites 100 million active users on Google+ in the last nine months, Instagram could have given them "an alternative social network" of 30 million users on mobile -- something which has never been Facebook's forte.
So what's left for Google? There's still Path, a kind of murky social network with 2 million users, but it is pretty and has lots of buzz. Is it worth millions? That's another question. Last year Google tried to buy the social network with a 50-person limit for $100 million but was turned down. Perhaps with a $500 million offer, Path's refusal could change.
But maybe it doesn't need to buy anything. Google already has a lot of resources behind it. So perhaps it should put its Google X lab engineers to work and create a worthy competitor for both Instagram and Path. If not, there are always new apps and new talent coming into the market.