On May 1 Snapchat rolled out a new update, but it wasn’t the usual bug fixes n’ whatnot minimal tweak job. The fast-growing messaging service rolled out a major redesign, following the current trend that favors uncluttered, clean design and easy-to-parse functionality. But more than a sprucing up of the look of Snapchat, the service got a major features overhaul, adding video and text messaging and greatly expanding the scope of the services it offers.
Staying true to their commitment to “exploding” social media, Snapchat videos disappear after viewing, and text messages are gone as soon as one party leaves the conversation. The video function also allows a FaceTime style real time chat. While the fidelity of Snapchat does not quite compare to the Apple Inc. (AAPL) product, considering it’s the first iteration, the video service looks to be on the right track.
The rollout and expansion into video and text messaging further solidifies Snapchat’s path towards self-actualization. That is, that the company is coming up with more and more reasons to shun buyout offers, and eventually turn public in their own right as a competitor to Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) .
Of course, Snapchat has a long, long way to go until they get to that point. With no monetization strategy, it is certainly in no position to go public... yet. But their usage and growth rates are striking, especially in the photo-sharing arena.
Consider this: Facebookers upload 350 million images a day. Instagram users put 500 million a day on that app. Snapchat users, though, send an estimated 700 million photos a day, which is even more impressive when considering that in February 2013 that number stood at just 70 million.
With forays into video and messaging, Snapchat is clearly taking aim not just at FaceTime, and also Facebook's recent $19 billion acquisition, messaging service WhatsApp. As Snapchat continues to evolve and challenge the major players directly, it will be interesting to see how those current kings of social media react.
This video from the Verge takes a closer look at the new features of the Snapchat update, with a few hints about how the app will continue developing as the battle for social media ad dollars continues to intensify.
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