From web profiles to videos, Instagram has taken some big steps with its mobile app over the past few years. But what’s next for the popular photo-sharing service? According to a report from GigaOm, the answer to that question is private messaging.

Citing “well-placed” sources, GigaOm reported that Instagram is preparing to launch new private messaging features, as well as group messaging. The unveiling could happen as soon as next month, as Facebook knows that many consumers will get new phones, computers, and tablets for the holidays.

What better way to encourage engagement on a new device than with the launch of a new feature? Many people will likely experience Instagram for the first time, and loyal users will want to experiment with the service on a new platform. The addition of a new feature could make the app that much more appealing.

Unsurprisingly, a spokesperson for Instagram declined to comment on the report. Without additional details, it’s difficult to speculate on what this could mean for businesses using the app. One could see the potential for customer feedback — comments often include lively discussions.

However, it’s unlikely that consumers turn to Instagram before Twitter or Facebook for customer support. Another theory is that private messaging could be convenient for collecting personal information as part of a contest held on Instagram, instead of requiring those details to be sent through email.

With only a little over a month left before the reported end-of-year goal, we’ll be sure to keep you updated on any developments or confirmed details from Instagram.

[Via: GigaOm, Image credit: Karen Roe]