It’s called Slingshot. And that’s not all: in terms of being a Snapchat competitor, it isn’t alone.
The idea of competitive alternates to mobile apps isn’t a radical one in the slightest. Many come and fade away after a major player has taken hold of the market. But Slingshot was created by a team from the massive Facebook itself. Curiously, it has a different general design, allowing users to align “slings” (or images received/sent) from friends with their own on their screen, creating image “mashups.” The system has been reviewed as somewhat confusing with its inability to carry forth a normal conversation with someone due to the non-sequitor nature it sports. But Facebook reportedly fixed that bug a few days ago. And unlike Snapchat, the images do not automatically delete, drawing a major difference between the two.
It may be premature to say this, but the launch appears to be failing. Especially coming from a corporation like Facebook, it would seem reasonable to expect a constant growth in app downloads over time. But the popularity of the app use and downloads is steadily dwindling. Why? Well for starters, Facebook barely publicized this new creation.
I, personally, think this is almost intentional.
Facebook appears to be experimenting with a Snapchat alternate, playing with the idea of creating a similar app that just doesn’t delete the images like Snapchat. Broadcasting the initiative would be counteractive to its test run; if Facebook decided to abandon Slingshot down the road, it would only add power to the perceived Snapchat dominance in this tech sector. And one key piece of evidence seems to prove that this may as well been the strategy.
In 2012, Facebook bought the massive photo sharing social network, Instagram. And less than a week ago, Instagram launched Bolt, a photo sharing messenger application.
That’s right. Take two: a new Snapchat competitor.
Two Snapchat alternates, launched barely months apart by Facebook owned entities – almost seems to scream that this is a weird multi-beta test to find the best alternatative to Snapchat’s global dominance of photo sharing.
Three things to know about Bolt: first, it was launched in only three countries (New Zealand, Singapore, and South Africa). Second, it is being praised as “wicked fast” by Instagram itself. And lastly, Bolt uses a very unorthodox interface. Instead of connecting over Facebook or other media platforms, your contacts are pulled directly from your address book. Twenty contacts to be precise. Bolt is promoting the personal aspect of photo sharing by only limiting conversations with one person. So in terms of the mass multi-person stories that are offered by Snapchat, Bolt has no similar alternate.
Yet the limited features on Bolt are being embraced by the Bolt community. The interface requires very few clicks, allowing you to take the picture and hit the bubble of a friend’s profile picture to instantly send the image. It has also some very fun features such as undoing a message by shaking the phone. There are also some aesthetically beautiful features for the camera. But nuances aside, Bolt and Snapchat live in the same vein. While this beta run isn’t being conducted in Facebook/Instagram’s resident nation, the United States, it is a move that indicates that the social media conglomerate seriously may want to replace Snapchat.
With two new competitors, Snapchat remaining strong, and new talks about potential offers for Spiegel’s company, Snapchat’s puberty may be over. However, its drama in the tech field is just beginning. Can multiple apps of the same sort co-exist? Possibly. Will Snapchat continue to prevail over Slingshot? Based on the data so far, it’s likely. But can Bolt make Snapchat a ghost of the past? Only time will tell.
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