SnapChat, a Serious Threat to Facebook
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In 2011, Stanford undergraduate Evan Spiegel created Snapchat, a smartphone application that allows users to safely send and receive “snaps,” or photos and videos, without leaving a record.

  • Upon opening the app, the user is directed to the phone’s selfie-screen. The term, “snap” comes from the word, “snapshot.”
  • In its early years, Snapchat functioned as a platform for sharing whimsically edited photos.
  • The recipient of a photo only has a limited number of seconds - as determined by the sender - to see the photo. Due to the impermanent nature of the shared photos, Snapchat has been incredibly successful among younger generations who want to hide their correspondences from their parents.
  • The “Sponsored lens” feature, introduced in 2015, allows users to decorate their selfies with filters sponsored by companies. E.g., The Peanuts Movie, the new Snoopy and Charlie Brown film, advertised its release through Snapchat. This raked in a revenue of 9억원 during the 2015 holiday season. In addition, the recently added “Selfie lens” feature, allows users to add real-time effects using face detection into their snap and has added to the popularity of this app.
  • After 2011, Snapchat has been wildly popular among its users in their teens and 20’s.
    In 2013, Facebook offered to acquire Snapchat for $3 billion, but Spiegel declined the offer.
    In 2015, an average of 6B videos are played through Snapchat (vs. Facebook’s 8B views), and the company boasts approximately 100 million daily active users and is valued at nearly $20 billion.

Since the year 2013, Snapchat has evolved into a mobile multimedia platform and has been successful in a variety of business models.

  • My Story (2013): users can compile snaps into chronological storylines, accessible to friends or the public. This feature allows the typically younger users to create a story for others to see.
  • Live Story (2014): Snapchat curators edit and publicize photos and videos taken at famous events, giving people real-time access to the lives and happenings of people they follow. Live Story (as well as My Story) are only available for 24 hours.
  • Discover (2015): ESPN, CNN, and other global media companies have used Snapchat to broadcast carefully selected photos and videos to users.
  • Snapchat receives 2 cents for every view on a 10-second advertisement on Live Story. Snapchat also accepts offers from a maximum of 4 companies per day (according to 2015 figures.) An advertisement that lasts for 24 hours costs approximately $400,000.

In 2016, Snapchat released the SnapChat 2.0 update with the hopes of establishing itself as an unparalleled mobile communication channel.

  • New voice/video call and recording functions to facilitate mobile chatting via Snapchat
  • After taking over Bitstrips, Snapchat now allows users to make greater use of stickers (e.g., typing in “I’m hungry” automatically causes the app to look up stickers relevant to hunger or food.) In addition, Snapchat has added more entertaining filters for selfies.
  • Snapchat aspires to become the main medium by which users communicate (calling, texting, voice recording).

Why was Snapchat so successful? Is Snapchat a threat to Facebook, Instagram, and/or Google?

Please discuss your thoughts to your Ringle Tutor, who is likely to be familiar with or is a user of Snapchat.

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