It was recently broadcast that Snapchat shares plummeted by 14%, soon after Snapchat started trading on the stock market earlier this year, losing 2.2bn in their first quarter.
Part of the problem with Snapchat are the limited capabilities of the Snapchat platform, there’s only so many times that someone can send you a selfie of themselves with cat ears and a squeaky voice before it starts to get a little repetitive. It was also limited in terms of its targeting, with the features appealing to a mainly younger audience, who are more concerned with seeing what their friends are doing on a daily basis.
The controversy over the ‘Snap Map’ feature, which allows people to see their friend’s locations, can’t have helped the apps reputation. Although off by default, the maps are eerily accurate about showing exactly where you are to your Snapchat friends, giving out an exact location on a map. The feature also shows if some of your friends are out together in one place, when you’re travelling, and automatically broadcasts your location to your Snapchat friends whenever you open the app. The problem with this being that impressionable young teenagers and children will accept a Snapchat invitation from just about anyone, and much like Facebook you don’t have to know someone personally to allow them to send you a friend request. This led to child safety groups questioning the safety of the app and police stations issuing warnings and information telling people how to disable the app on their and their children’s social media accounts.
Besides introducing a slightly too intrusive feature, other reasons for Snapchat’s decline has come from how other popular social channels steal key features from the app. Facebook slowly took all the best features of Snapchat, including instant stories, disappearing messages and augmented filters. Added to this, Facebook also has a much more developed advertising platform which can easily service adverts in a subtler way than Snapchat by appearing in a newsfeed or side bar. Whereas the majority of Snapchat ads tend to be more disruptive as they annoyingly appear on your screen when you’re about to do something.
While it can be argued that Facebook has won by fair trial, it does bring to question if any other social media app can ever compete with the big dogs of social media, namely Facebook and Instagram (both owned by the same company anyway). As Facebook has no qualms about stealing any original features from a new app and incorporating into their own, how can anyone get enough budget and backing to compete within a market where one company has it all?
This monopoly surely can’t be good for the tech market, as creative ideas are only being channelled through a few companies, namely Facebook and Google, which obviously have their own biases and barriers as institutions, no matter how progressive and different they claim to be.
Added to this is the news that Facebook is going to start creating its own shows. The new feature is called Facebook Watch and already has a number of big-name partners on board, such as Buzzfeed and Mashable. Facebook seems to be releasing mostly short form content for now with an interactive social element of sharing the videos and claims to not be a competitor to companies like Netflix and Amazon.
However, any product is developed with a view to expanding it in the future if successful, so let’s wait and see how many features the new Facebook Watch takes from Netflix, or perhaps the tables will turn and Netflix will be taking a few Facebook Watch features for itself.