Company / division: Snap
Though the narrative about Facebook copying Snapchat is generally fairly accurate, and Facebook has largely used Instagram as its vehicle for this cloning recently, this doesn’t feel like part of that narrative. Yes, there’s a carousel of sorts within Snapchat’s Discover section, but that’s really where the similarity ends. This is news- and importantly article-centric, while most of the Discover content is lifestyle-centric and highly visual (video and photos). And this is about bundling content from a single news publisher, potentially around a topic, which also feels quite distinct. This is also all directly related to Facebook’s other announcement today about news, which explicitly referenced this testing.
This is really mostly about what Snapchat is doing today with musicians, and the answer is pretty interesting – adding audio to filters, for example. In contrast to Snapchat’s general unwillingness to engage in a special way with celebrities, this approach shows it is willing to provide tools for musicians and others to promote themselves and new content. Music has always held special appeal for mobile platforms because of the emotional appeal, and Snap appears to on board too.
One of the big goals for Snap in the coming months is driving faster revenue growth, which means making the tough transition from a niche spending category to a mainstream one for advertisers. That, in turn, means better tools for selling and measuring the performance of ads. It seems some basic machine learning is at play here, which is an interesting advance from Snap too.
One of the most interesting questions Snap has to answer as it approaches a possible IPO is which company will serve as a better benchmark for its potential – Twitter or Facebook. Part of making the pitch for the latter is demonstrating that Snap is more than just a messaging app, which means focusing on its content offerings and partnerships and the potential ad revenue they might drive. Snap’s recent rebranding and launch of Spectacles are all part of a significant evolution of the company and its identity.
Great summary of the history of the Facebook Copying Snapchat narrative over the past few months. The interesting evolution during that time has been a shift in focus from trying to recreate new apps to mimic Snapchat in part or entirely to mostly using Instagram to borrow features.
Report: Snapchat acquires Israeli AR firm Cimagine Media (Dec 26, 2016)
This is a fascinating story in the context of what Snap has done recently with Spectacles. Future Spectacles hardware could bring AR capabilities, but of course AR could also be baked into the Snapchat app in new ways (arguably today’s filters are already a form of AR). Lots of potential here.
Snap (formerly Snapchat) continues to do things differently from almost every other social network out there (though Facebook is imitating it lately). This article details Snap’s approach of treating celebrities like any other user, which is in keeping with its focus on authenticity, but can also be frustrating for big names.
Uber to Your Friends and Snap Along the Way! (Dec 21, 2016)
Uber announced two new features – making a friend rather than a place your destination for rides, and a filter integration with Snapchat. Uber has always been open to partnerships, with Spotify and Facebook previous partners – it’s an interesting way to expand its reach and also keep people in the app longer.
Disney-ABC to Produce Snapchat Original Series | Variety (Dec 21, 2016)
One of the biggest challenges facing Snap as it approaches an IPO is providing advertisers with the products and tools they need to make markedly bigger investments on the platform. Getting more professionally produced video content onboard is one way to go about that, and I’m betting this won’t be the last of these deals.
The Flash app is yet another attempt by Facebook to recreate some of Snapchat’s features in one of its own apps, and appears to be building off the more successful cloning the company has been doing in 2016. This one is specifically focused on emerging markets, where Snapchat doesn’t have nearly the audience it does in mature markets (or nearly the audience Facebook does). It’s also yet another example of putting the camera at the forefront of the Facebook experience.
Facebook’s new camera app (currently in testing) clones several Snapchat features, including filters/lenses, and ephemeral messages. The filter/lens technology is built on the acquisition of MSQRD.
via The Verge
Yet another experimental attempt by Facebook to recreate a Snapchat feature, this time within Messenger, and only in Poland. Following two early attempts to recreate Snapchat in totality in its own new apps, much of Facebook’s Snacphat cloning in 2016 has come through both features within other apps and more experimental approaches, launching new features or apps in single countries, rather than making a big global announcement. This seems smart, given Facebook’s history in this space, many of its attempts having fallen flat.
via The Verge
Facebook’s first successful attempt to clone a Snapchat feature ironically came not in Facebook but in Instagram, an app it was able to acquire (unlike Snapchat itself). There’s plenty of evidence at this point that Instagram Stories have done very well for Facebook (and some that it’s hit Snapchat hard).
This article suggests that Slingshot was not just a Snapchat clone, and it did have additional, original features too, but it was almost universally seen as yet another attempt by Facebook to copy Snapchat, following its failed attempt to buy the company in 2013. Slingshot was finally killed off when Facebook shut down its Creative Labs team in late 2015.
via The Verge
This is, as far as we know, the only time Facebook actually tried to buy Snapchat outright, and although Facebook had attempted to clone Snapchat for the first time in 2012, most of its efforts to copy features or the entire app have come since, starting in 2014 and accelerating dramatically in 2016.
Facebook Launches Snapchat Competitor “Poke”, An iOS App For Sending Expiring Text, Photos, And Videos – TechCrunch (Dec 21, 2012)
Facebook’s first attempt to copy Snapchat came in the form of its Poke app, launched in late 2012 and eventually killed off for good in May 2014 after it failed to gain meaningful traction.