Snapchat is oriented towards creation. When you open it, it starts on the camera.
Instagram is so much more self-regulated and bound in crafting identity. You're right in that it's much more focused on consuming since the barrier to posting is much higher than snapping.
The only few times I used Facebook's "My day", I just posted my saved snaps. (and I only did it to see who'd open!)
I don't even use the regular camera app. It's always Snapchat. It's the best casual camera app out there.
Not sure I would call it creation when going through 10 minutes of Stories from friends @ Snapchat...
There are a few issues though I have noticed:
* Cards can sometimes glitch out. I've had overlapping cards get stuck and had to restart the app a few times.
* Bios take a long to load compared to photos etc. for some reason.
This is the key thing. While I don't use any of their Snapchat cloned features, I do think their photo product is very good. So you can see what they are doing to users like me. I'm now more likely to use their stories because I already like the core product. Also, celebrities have a higher reach on Instagram than on Snapchat, so the transition for them is seamless while also maintaining (and increasing) their existing follower base.
Snapchat is the inverse, where the content is aimed at one's followers, but one can submit notable content to be featured in the company-curated Discover section (about major events, for example). There is no public aggregation, there is no public display of likes.
The two platforms are still differentiated by their design philosophies, and in North America there is significant overlap in the userbase.
The danger, of course, is that once Instagram has cloned enough of Snapchat's functionality, the same users won't need to switch to Snapchat anymore to get the close-knit experience. Similarly, Snapchat may feel pressured to up its parity with Instagram in turn, by adding public features that are very different from its current model. In either case, the networks will have iterated themselves into equivalence , making the exact provider irrelevant and making pure network effects be the the deciding factor more often that not -- which gives an advantage to larger players.
I say this despite the fact that stories was what really brought stratospheric growth to snapchat, because i'm taking into account opportunity cost.
They could have focused on making their core (1-1 messaging) better but they decided to become a broadcast media company, starting with stories and then those brand videos.
This has always been risky. Even at its peak when you look at what was happening on Snapchat stories, a lot of these microcelebrities on snapchat would use stories as a way to get more likes or follows on their instagram. They say stuff like "Hey i just posted a new photo on instagram, please like it!" etc. This was convenient for them because these needy behaviors go away on snapchat stories.
The moment snapchat decided to become 1:many, they became a serious threat to Facebook in pretty obvious ways, so it was no brainer that Facebook jumped to do something about it. And at the same time, you can't compete with Facebook on 1:many broadcast.
They should have focused on 1:1 and fought on their own turf. Sure it would have been harder to figure out the viral growth, but it was already doing well so I'm sure they could have figured out some way without jumping into Facebook's playground.
1. Snapchat is not done. Millions of active users in advertiser-desired demographics is not done. Instagram has blunted its growth, but Snapchat is still alive and well.
2. Snapchat is a social platform, not a broadcast media company. There is a difference- they're not making their own content.
3. Snapchat was always a threat to Facebook, regardless of whether it was 1:1 or 1:many messaging. Snapchat competes for finite resources: digital ad dollars and user attention by way of socialization. This is how Facebook's business works as well, making them inherent competitors. If you're snapping a selfie to a friend then you're not seeing ads in the Facebook app.
You may be right about Snapchat not being able to compete against Facebook in the long run. Facebook certainly demonstrated the power of owning the largest social network when they cloned Stories. They can copy good ideas and roll them out to billions of users instantly. Maybe Snapchat can compete with that, maybe not.
4. Exactly what Snapchat's turf consists of is an open question I don't think any of us know the answer to. You seem to think its turf is 1:1 messaging, but Spiegel thinks it's being a camera company. After seeing Spectacles, god only knows where they'll go next. Besides, why stay in one bit of "turf" when you can expand?
I will agree with you on this one. Maybe I was too aggressive in my expression. But the point I was making was they made a mistake by deciding to fight on Facebook's turf.
> 2. Snapchat is a social platform, not a broadcast media company. There is a difference- they're not making their own content.
Maybe you haven't used Snapchat recently? Just check out the "discover" feature. Also you're using the term "broadcast" differently than how I'm using it.
> but Spiegel thinks it's being a camera company.
I respectfully want to say you're believing too much of what PR people tell you. "Camera company" doesn't suddenly make the company more compelling. It only becomes compelling when they have a solid business model to support that vision. Spectacles is nothing more than an SoCal phenomenon. Good job for pulling off that scarcity marketing but that doesn't change the fact that most people don't want to walk around wearing a douchy pair of sunglasses everyday.
Overall I think you're making arguments about unimportant details. My main point was Snapchat should have focused on scaling their core experience that was truly unique. Instead they stepped into a territory where it can be replicated by anyone else. I'm not just talking about Facebook. Just look around the world and you'll see snapchat clones popping up (or soon will). Snapchat should have owned that entire global market.
I wouldn't be so sure of that
The combined market cap of these companies for which digital advertising is the main product is staggering...and sad.
You expect the employees to start dumping their stock at fire-sale prices? Otherwise, how do prices tumble in a market? The buyer and seller have to agree on price.
My point is that unless those employees choose to sell their stock at below market prices (for whatever reason), then market prices won't budge. Stock prices don't fall because lots of people decide to sell; people are selling stock all day, every day, yet prices rise. It's all about that price and company prospects.
I probably being overly pedantic.
In fact stock prices frequently fall because lots of people decide to sell. You're positing a premise that only exists in theory, and will never actually occur in fact as it pertains to the stock market. If you dramatically increase the number of sellers, the stock will go down. The sellers don't just sit there, holding their ask, they lower their ask to try to get out of the stock they want to sell. That incremental process, lowers the stock, and then lowers it some more, and then keeps lowering it. More selling interest than buying is exactly what causes stocks like Twitter to plunge off a cliff.
Your premise is that the wave of sellers are just all going to hold their ask prices firm (rather than competing and lowering their ask to get their shares sold). That has never happened and will never happen in actual trading.
There's a little overlap in their features but they're not used the same way. They aren't competing for users.
If you want to talk to someone you use snapchat, if you want social validation use instagram.
With that in mind, I think it's the introduction of 'Discover' that truly painted the target on their back, but Discover also played a necessary role in their quest for monetizing their users' attention, in a way that was praised by many pundits and analysts at the time as forward-thinking, while invoking comparisons to popular TV channels of the 1980s and 1990s.
"Pundits" like to give their interpretation on "why something is successful" only after it became successful, so most of their interpretations are nothing more than circle jerking backwards rationalization, so I never really bought into any of those meaningless praise anyway.
If this is the case, it's not as damning for SnapChat as it seems, at least until some younger, hotter social app bumps them off the pedestal in a few years. Young users get older, but older users don't get any younger. My understanding is that SnapChat's inscrutable UI is deliberate: they want you to have to be shown how to use SnapChat by someone already on it, to avoid the "My grandmother's on Facebook, how uncool is that?" problem.
Couldn't agree more
It's evident by most of the comments here
Instagram / Facebook / WhatsApp will not get that < 25 demography
I doubt Instagram counts this as success. They didn't get any new users - that was the main goal when mimicking Snapchat
No WhatsApp usage at all. Viber, Zalo, and WeChat all the way.
This may be why SnapChat has targeted brand advertisers rather than the more targeted advertisements that Facebook/Google go after.
Totally made up and arbitrary example but it would be like if Starbucks started serving some widely popular menu item based on a recipe from a competing chain. They already have a huge loyal customer base that's coming into their stores all the time, so it's more convenient for these people to get this new item at Starbucks since they're going there anyway, but Starbucks didn't come up with the idea or recipe, they just saw that it was popular elsewhere and knew they could leverage the convenience factor to get people to buy it from their stores (which people were already coming to) instead of going to a second store for it. That's not really ethical competition.
I'd have to think there isn't a legal case or the billion dollar company that is Snapchat would have mounted a case. They didn't patent an interface (code or visual). They didn't try to protect it or even make a public case that it was somehow copying.
Yet, here we are on Hacker News saying it's somehow unethical? At this level, all social networks are "clones" of each other. Twitter is a clone of the FB news feed. Android is a clone of the iPhone. All of the food delivery startups are clones of each other. They all should do the moral thing and close up shop or at least pivot to something else.
Except we would all be poorer for it. We would have less options, less innovations and fewer ways to communicate. If any of the parties thought this was unethical stealing of their work, they are big boys and well funded; they'd at the very least say so.
You may not like FB/Instagram because of it but, if it's a superior free product and no one is making a case then I don't think it's immoral.
Is this really fair to you? Big Company A stole your invention and leveraged their market power to basically shove you into a corner and out-produce you, but if it weren't for your original idea, they would have never done any of this. It's the concept of a company stealing an idea/invention from someone else and using it to profit themselves that doesn't sit well with me.
Take for instance Google Plus, clearly a clone of every other social media. But it didn't work out too well. Facebook on the other hand was a copy of other platforms as well but well executed. Plus can Snapchat still be considered a small company, I guess in comparison to Facebook sure.
Yes, that's perfectly fair to me. That's how competition works.
The world would be a dark place if nobody copied other peoples' ideas and made products/better products out of them.
I have a feeling this will change eventually.
Yeah and it only took 5 attempts.
(Poke, Bolt, Slingshot, Flash, Instagram Stories)
But Snapchat wants their content to stay cool. Snapchat's UI was designed specifically to keep those who are not tech savvy from deeply using the service, which in theory would lead to better content as those who take the time to really understand the product make use of all the features.
If Instagram has more users than Snapchat, saying "Instagram's Snapchat feature has more users than Snapchat" isn't really as significant as it sounds, and doesn't necessarily represent any erosion of their userbase or threaten their growth.
Of course their userbases are not mutually exclusive, but I do get the impression there's a rough demographic separation.
1. After launching the app I am right in the take-a-picture mode. With Instagram I need one or two touches.
2. Different DNA, different circles
3. Pics to one or several people is way better and faster than on Instagram.
Only because they share the stories features doesn't mean they are interchangeable. They are still different products.
Even if Instagram has more MAUs on the stories feature Instagram's DNA gets dilluted with the integration of the story feature. Random, inflationary and non-glossy media wasn't part of Instagrams previous shiny DNA and experience.
i prefer taking pictures with the usual camera app on my phone (double table the home button -> done) and then post on stories/instagram.
that way i have the pic itself full size + other people can see it.
Snapchat's app is absolutely shit on anything except an iPhone though and even casual users I know mention this.
I can completely understand Instagram, so I was happy they added stories. It's really easy to use and the functionality seems intuitive.
Add in that Instagram's typical user base is much more broad (Snapchat tends to be most popular with young tweens, whereas Instagram's user base is just about everybody), and you have one actively hostile interface in an already small market against a much more friendly interface in an almost unrestricted market.
An innovative, new upshot getting sucked up/ blatantly ripped off by an established player with more muscle, money (and in this case - users) to throw at the problem is not a great incentive for entrepreneurs.
Consolidation at this level resembles communism more closely than the kind of free market innovation we should be seeing.
Let's be fair. The product team and the developers working on the Stories product did an amazing job. Also, not every well-established players do well trying to replicate / model after its competitors. Google is known to be one of them, when it comes to her attempt to rip FB apart. Several times more massive than Facebook's size and money pool, but Google failed to make a real den in the market. Facebook is one of the few tech giants today capable of engineering execution that can bring business some values. Disclaimer: I have not seen anyone in my circle using Stories on Facebook yet, but on Instagram plenty.
Innovation is competition. Think of the glory 50s - 80s of technical innovations. Something motivates somebody to do something different. Innovation does not necessarily equates to breakthrough. Diversify your product line and product features is innovative.
Let's be real fair here.
It's also fair to question if this is a good thing for the ecosystem of technology, and more specifically market technology from many different points of view - namely power distribution.
The trend here is that no matter what you do in technology, or how successful you become - you'll never beat Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft or Amazon. So, is that good, neutral, bad? I think probably bad, but I'm not sure.
Or maybe the answer is simply that Snapchat is really just a feature that got out of hand and is vastly overpriced.
> you'll never beat Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft or Amazon
But Facebook is the youngest. Apple did fail and almost vanish until Steve Jobs came back. Microsoft was sucking on its Windows license and losing so top talents, it came back with Azure and better Windows and Office product. Amazon diversified its product in 2005 and continued to do so now it has so much more capital to invest.
But Google destroyed Yahoo, MSN and AOL, and other web directory websites out of business.
MySpace is sold. Yahoo is sold. Tumblr's ability to make profit is questionable, and will likely fail eventually. Blackberry failed to come back. Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia all sold after Android came along and too late to adopt (from Seamian to Android). Google's first smartphone was a big step up. Wii U sale wasn't good. I can go on with many examples. Sony's digital music products were doing well then Apple's iPod came along. But was Apple's success a pure luck? A pure technical ingenious coincidence? Sony was much bigger than Apple at the time.
The business world is funny because the "too big to fail" will eventually fail one day, either through merge or complete bankruptcy. I predict Uber is too big to fail, but it might eventually pull back its main business back to NA. But that's my wild guess.
So the question is fair, but I think there's a question on leadership. Why some big company fail and others strive? Pure luck? Luck is 30%, 70% is people.
But I share the sentiment that Stories is not as exciting as hearing a robot can talk to me like a normal human. That would be a huge breakthrough, big innovation, and a whole new business venture. Was Facebook's AI messenger great? No, it was a poor experiment.
ML is becoming literally part of every business process across industries, and guess who is at the center? Google, Amazon, Facebook.
So yea, I think this time it's different. They have learned how to adapt as fast as Startups but retain the size of a Fortune 500.
On the other hand, giant companies like Facebook are the only ones who can really afford to just steal stuff and make it high performance. A startup's main premise can't be "technology-driven" in the most traditional sense of high performance. A startup will be out-performed by companies with more resources, like giant corporations.
Instead, think outside the box: what if you distribute data in a decentralized way, like BitTorrent? What if the bank is distributed, like Bitcoin? What if content wasn't ALLOWED to make money, like CC-NC? What if you organize the world's information by empowering authors, like Wikipedia?
People think Google has all the power and all the information, and they forget how much better Wikipedia is at achieving Google's own goals, at 1/100,000th the cost!
Wikipedia might not have a mapping product like Google's, and they don't index your e-mail, and it doesn't have as nice of a collaborative editor. Wikipedia is playing a different game altogether.
Google thought, well, let's copy/acquire these things that Microsoft does (Office, Exchange, Maps). Google is Microsoft's Facebook. Nothing is going to happen to Microsoft just because Google copies tons of their products, giving them away for free. Is Google bad for the ecosystem? Microsoft (and Snapchat, for that matter) are powerful companies.
Baidu copies Google features too—are they bad for the ecosystem? It's not obvious, because our dislike of these giant megacorporations and our assessment of their contributions to society are all colored by politics and opinions.
I think we're more interesting in protecting Wikipedias. In my opinion, Wikipedia is beating Google handily in the world's information department. Someone will figure out an unassailable (though not necessarily lucrative) answer to what Facebook and Snapchat attempt to do.
I think it is an excellent point, but I also believe we find a balance. I see your point. Big corporation can spare money to experiment. This is Google's strategy. Throw a hundred developers and $50M investment and if fail remove the project from its catalog two years from now. Move on to the next item.
Unfortunately, I think luck being 30% in measuring success is a real deal breaker. Sometimes, your best idea (very profitable) just doesn't take off until the right moment, even if we have the best product team, the best sales pitch, the most intuitive platform. Sometimes it's playing Russian roulette. I recently read about Foursquare - that's a good example. The luck of finding the right people leading a new vision.
They did and they failed mainly because Zuckerberg took the call to thwart them at any cost, one of the very famous 'lockdown modes'.
This was then. Imagine how Facebook will respond to any threat now. The tenor and the impact of their response is evident in the Stories rollout.
One might argue, in favour of Snapchat that this is a one-off situation and that Facebook will succumb to the same organisational stasis that big corporations fall into. Facebook falling into stasis doesn't seem likely. If someone has viewpoints to the contrary I'm all ears.
Snapchat will have a real tough time fighting Facebook.
But back to my point. Even Google couldn't win Facebook with all that cash flow. But is size the real reason? No. It's the execution that matters. The thing I hear a lot about Google is that there could be multiple version of the same "product" competing for final launch, Google+ was like that. In the end I feel that's a bit of a hackathon-ish competition. Lots of defects, unclear product vision and perhaps low morale.
Anyway, small company can still win. There are many examples of that out there.
Thanks for sharing this. A quote I won't forget. Seems unreal, really.
Facebook offered to acquire Snapchat for $3B cash in 2014.  Snapchat declined the offer, then went on to have a successful IPO with NO VOTING RIGHTS for common shareholders (a first). Snapchat is a successful company, Evan Spiegel is a billionaire, and any entrepreneur would gladly follow in his footsteps.
What happens now between Snapchat and Facebook is largely irrelevant, the original Snapchat team found a wildly successful exit. Sure, it might suck for the majority of Snapchat's employees if the company goes under due to competition from Facebook, but the lesson for entrepreneurs is pretty clear.
Also, one company copying another's product with no government or legal protections would occur under a purely capitalist system. A move towards communism would entail the US gov. stepping in a nationalizing Facebook/Snapchat...which is way off base here...
>Consolidation at this level resembles communism more closely than the kind of free market innovation we should be seeing.
An established player pushing out a smaller startup sounds very much like capitalism, not communism. You could maybe argue it is consolidating into a monopoly, but not that it is communism.
FB is very clearly in the latter camp. That is communism.
These two things aren't the same. The former is complaining about larger companies copying features (where no legislation exists) and the latter is complaining about incurring legislation that impedes competition.
So what do you want? Legislation or not? You can't have both.
> is not a great incentive for entrepreneurs.
There are plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs to create new technologies, but the gold rush for creating the next big social app may indeed be over.
I don't care if that happens by social being not a way to get rich anymore, or by a class of entrepreneurs being inspired to make something else, as long as it happens.
It shows that even if you create a HUGE new thing, you're probably going to get killed by the big ones. There is no competing anymore - you either assimilate through acquisition or get squeezed to death on the back end because the incumbents have the cash, data and talent.
So what the hell is venture supposed to do in this landscape? I'm genuinely curious. If the goal of venture money is to build IPO level companies - not one off acquisitions - then what is the move here?
I even remarked as such a few days ago: https://twitter.com/AndrewKemendo/status/851840701214208002
If you are relying on outcompeting the incumbent directly you are in for a really tough fight.
Consumer Understanding: Check
Industry Knowledge: Check
What other examples do you see this to be applicable ?
It's going to take tens or hundreds of millions in "seed" investment in the future to compete with one of these behemoths - and even then they all have venture arms so you better find money that is not associated with one of them - impossible probably.
That's what I'm arguing is happening.
If you build a product that can be cloned trivially, you should expect others to clone it. If you are relying on the network effect to beat off competitors, you'd better not have competitors with a bigger network.
The question is, can Snapchat use their newly obtained war chest to make a counterplay that differentiates them from Facebook/Insta. If I had cash to gamble I'd short Snapchat and bet no, but we'll see.
If you're getting "ripped off by an established player", then you know you've made it.
The challenge then is making sure you have a strategy for co-existing with the incumbent (e.g. being more nimble, expanding the market), being acquired by the incumbent, or building a moat (e.g. expanding into a vertical that the incumbent can't touch; innovating faster than the incumbent can copy you).
(this dynamic dates back to the first startup...MSFT ate up an entire ecosystem of startups for a generation)
So. That being said: just curious what the appeal is for others. What is it you like about stories, what about the feature-other than it ostensibly being a video-is so engaging about these things?
I don't see how this fits with the 'hey world, look at my perfect life' photos of Instagram.
My guess is that it's as much a move to force people into a feed where they are forced to interact more with ads since IG ads don't perform well as show investors they compete with Snapchat.
I don't see an exodus of Snapchat users to Instagram.
That's the whole point. With Instagram Stories, you can now do both. My public feed that stick has nice curated pictures, while my Stories have goofy every-day, even mundane stuff that will disappear in 24 hrs. It is the perfect duality.
Instagram is more public facing and has the same boasty/gaudy problems that fb/twitter has. Instagram can replicate the features of snapchat but it's really trying to do too much, it's cluttered and overburdened. Not to mention the advertisements, fake personas, novelty accounts and hidden shills.
PS: please WhatsApp, remove stories. It's not the place for it.
Why does messenger open up my camera when I launch it? Why does it ask me to put pictures that I send my friends on my public story? Why do peoples stories take half of my messenger screen? It's really intrusive, and incredibly annoying.
2. INSTA has users across the world and in countries where their unit economics is a loss.
3. Nobody makes ad profit from India/Brazil/Vietnam. SNAP wants to redefine how valuation is done.
4. Having billion users is a wrong metric altogether when most users doesn't generate revenue. And yes, companies will always promise they will generate revenue in 10 years or some BS.
I believe the article was changed after being published.
Instagram novelty/celeb/art/bs accounts are all over the place, it's fairly lucrative to push products on the hot trend of the day and the whole platform is pretty spammy.
Snapchat doesn't really have this problem, you don't interact with people you don't know unless you seek them out. There is no easy way to add randoms on snapchat, users tend to be actual users.
When Facebook had their IPO everyone argued about them having no revenue, but they still had user growth, when Snap started they already had no user growth. This combined with no revenue... Wall Street does not approve!
That's exactly the point. Snapchat has absolutely no interest in associating themselves with Facebook. Snapchat caters to a entirely different demographic, and being anti-Facebook is a large part of the appeal.
But, then again, in same alternate universe YouTube never got bought by Google, so Facebook never had room to grow.
Think alternate universes don't make sense?
Does this one does?
I don't understand how Facebook cloning Snapchat is any different from Chinese startups cloning various American apps. Why is cloning frowned-upon only when the Chinese do it?
Taking their existing AR technology and apply to, let's say aircraft technicians. Snapchat + Boeing partnership?
But hey, you gotta show off those metrics.
Leave aside that interpersonal communication is one of the most fundamental of human needs, and thus any new medium or mechanism that enables people to do that more effectively and enjoyably is valuable.
What matters more is that many of the the technologies that have been developed by companies like Google and Facebook, in order to (sneer) get people to click on more ads, or (sneer) let teenagers share duckfaced, princess-filtered selfies with their friends, have been open-sourced and can now be freely used by researchers working in medicine, climate science, energy, cleantech, particle physics, etc.
I'll bet the medical researchers who are using TensorFlow to improve cancer detection , or the CERN researchers who use Cassandra to store and process data gathered in the ATLAS experiment , aren't sneering when they see Google and Facebook doing things that make themselves more popular and commercially successful.
But surprise, not everyone wants to jump into the medical field and the field certainly isn't hiring every damn person out there. Not everyone has to or wants to work the same job or towards the same goal, and that's okay.
Facebook sat in stasis for years without innovating their products. Now they are using their incumbent position to steal every single snapchat feature with impunity.
Of course that's par for the course in tech. Where the giant companies throw their weight around to crush competition.
Will there be an antitrust suit?
Copying ideas is 3/4 of tech nowadays, whether it's a website design and features, or a social network, or a cab-hailing app (Uber, Lyft, etc etc).
I think this is a good thing, because it allows creativity and competition within established ideas, instead of letting whoever came up with it first have a monopoly on it.
Heck, I almost developed and released something almost identical to Pintrest before Pintrest came out. Good thing I didn't -- and wasn't allowed to claim some kind of rights on the idea -- because my version would have sucked. (Well, sucked in a different way from Pintrest does.)
It also sets a very poor precedent for entrepreneurial people.
In fact, it's one of the few instances of capitalism actually working the way it "works" on paper.