Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is continuing in its Johnny-come-lately routine as it prepares once more to get in the game that Snapchat has been dominating. The social media giant has tried its hand more than once and failed, but it appears it will try again with a new app, this time a little less Snapchat clone and a bit more TapTalk clone.
According to sources for The Financial Times, Facebook is working on a project, codenamed Slingshot, that will function somewhat like the widely popular Snapchat app, which features limited lifespan photos, videos, texts, as well as video calls. For those familiar with Facebook’s delve into this sort of project, the Poke app might come to mind. That app also served as a Facebook’s competitor to Snapchat, but it has recently been pulled from the app stores.
In an odd reverse-reading of the saying “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” before Facebook made Poke in attempt to challenge Snapchat head-to-head, it actually tried to buy the company. Last year, it offered Snapchat creators Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy $3 billion for the company. As can be plainly seen, the offer was rejected by Snapchat.
This new attempt at a Snapchat-like app has been in development for several months and been overseen directly by Mark Zuckerberg, reports The Financial Times. Though the app could never see the light of day, one of the sources said it may come out as early as this month. Following the new system Facebook is implementing, it will also likely be a standalone app, rather than one that gets embedded in another of Facebook’s already popular apps.
It might seem a bit odd that Facebook keeps trying to get into that same segment of communications, but there are some pretty big reasons for it. Firsly, 700 million photos, videos, and messages are sent across Snapchat every day, reports PCMag. That’s a load of user interaction Facebook can’t just sit by and ignore. The other important thing is that Snapchat is succeeding where Facebook is failing. According to CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber, “Snapchat over-indexes with the very segment where Facebook has cited falling engagement: teenagers,” reports The Financial Times.
That’s a problem Facebook has to face: the youth that aren’t interested in Facebook. Blaber continued to comment that people are more and more using Facebook “as a means of direct person-to-person communication.” With that consideration, Facebook’s main platform has less and less to offer people. Though the Messenger app and Facebook’s WhatsApp acquisition are geared toward that type of communication, it has to compete more directly with other apps that offer attractive communication options, like Line or KakaoTalk.
Facebook making the Slingshot app separate from its other apps may be a safe move. According to Reticle Research’s principal analyst, Ross Rubin, the different communications Apps owned by Facebook “could be seen as having a separate demographic,” reports VentureBeat. Keeping them separate means a failing app won’t drag down a successful one.
It makes a lot of sense that Facebook would continue to push into the ephemeral messaging sphere, and with as large of a user base as it has, it could find a strong place in that niche if its users adopt the new app. Of course, that all depends on whether Facebook actually comes out with Slingshot at all.
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