Updated: August 15, 2022
“Snapchat pioneered Stories, the popular feature where users create and share ephemeral posts that disappear within 24 hours,” reports Business Insider. “And now, it’s taking them everywhere.” Users are now able to share their Stories on third-party partner apps like Tinder — and Snap is also sharing its Bitmoji’s with Venmo and Fitbit.
For 2.5 years, Snapchat foolishly tried to take the high road versus Facebook, with Evan Spiegel claiming “Our values are hard to copy”. That inaction allowed Zuckerberg to accrue over 1 billion daily Stories users across Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook compared to Snapchat’s 186 million total daily users. Meanwhile, the whole tech industry scrambled to build knock-offs of Snap’s vision of an ephemeral, visual future.
But Snapchat’s new strategy is a rallying call for the rest of the social web that’s scared of being squashed beneath Facebook’s boot. It rearranges the adage of “if you can’t beat them, join them” into “to beat them, join us”. As a unified front, Snap’s partners get the infrastructure they need to focus on what differentiates them, while Snapchat gains the reach and entrenchment necessary to weather the war. Snapchat’s plan is to let other apps embed the best parts of it rather than building their own half-rate copies. Why reinvent the wheel of Stories, Bitmoji, and ads when you can reuse the original?
A high-ranking Snap executive told me on background that this is indeed the strategy. If it’s going to invent these products, and others want something similar, it’s smarter to enable and partly control the Snapchatification than to try to ignore it. Otherwise, Facebook might be the one to platform-tize what Snap inspired everyone to want.
The article concludes that Snap “needs all the help it can get if the underdog is going to carve out a substantial and sustainable piece of social networking.”
As in certain cults it is possible to kill a process if you know its true name.
— Ken Thompson and Dennis M. Ritchie