Snapchat Is Dead but They Just Won't Admit It

Snapchat Is Dead but They Just Won't Admit It

Snapchat is announcing, “Snap Originals,” a feature that will allow the platform to feature an all-new series of high-quality videos created by top show producers. This development comes in response to the success of other mobile media apps, and Snapchat’s desire to stay competitive. Snap Originals is designed with the mobile experience in mind and features videos that are vertically oriented, augmented reality snippets, and new photo filters inspired by its shows. Its most direct competitor is IGTV, which is Instagram’s standalone platform, where the latter focuses on user-submitted content instead of produced content.

Why it matters:

Ever since Instagram famously integrated (“copied,” or "stole," is probably the more accurate word) the Snapchat Story feature in 2016, Instagram has been surpassing the originators in its number of daily active users. (The Story feature is a popular type of non-permanent video and photo format, allowing users to publish video and photos to their followers on the go). Within one quarter of Instagram copying Snapchat's stories, Snapchat's growth immediately dropped by 82%. By June 2018, Instagram had reported 400 million daily users whereas Snapchat had 191 million. 

Along with Snapchat’s lower user count is its decreasing performance across stock markets. The move to create a highly integrated strategy to both keep users and win new users is a top priority for Snap, the parent company of Snapchat.

Our Thoughts:

We’re thinking Snapchat won’t beat competitors like Instagram and IGTV with Snap Originals.

Instagram’s strength is that it is actually a platform. Snapchat is not a platform whatsoever. Hear us out on this one. We know it sounds harsh.

Snapchat started as an app for sharing instantaneous, non-permanent snapshots of a user’s daily life whereas Instagram grew in popularity for its culture of highly curated personal photos. The key distinction is that Instagram is centered on the permanence of its user-submitted photo galleries.

With Snapchat, non-permanence is its very essence. You get a username and a point system to keep score of your usage. You also get a share button. That's all you have as a user. Any photos and videos you share are automatically erased. The point here is that the popularity of non-permanent media is so counterintuitive to the permanent nature of digital information that it almost seems nonsensical that Snapchat became so big in the first place.

You could argue that the only thing keeping Snapchat going this whole time was the willingness of its users to simply press a share button. It had nothing to do with Snapchat being a platform. Finding users who are willing to share media practically describes the entire internet. 

Instagram must’ve realized the absurdity of Snapchat’s non-permanent sharing. When Instagram took Snapchat’s story feature, it became very clear in a short amount of time that Snapchat was nothing more than an app with a singular “share” function that was confusing itself for a platform. The move by Instagram to copy Snapchat's stories isn't what made Snapchat irrelevant, it simply underscored it. 

And now, Snap is releasing Snap Originals so that the app can compete with IGTV. No, I think they meant to say they’re going after Netflix. Good luck with that.

What we’re watching for: We’re waiting for Snapchat to accept that it needs to stop being a sharing platform. It needs to admit that the core app has been dead for years. Snapchat needs to pivot into a new direction altogether. Snap Originals might as well be a new app altogether since Snap’s business challenge isn’t to save the platform – since there wasn’t ever a platform to start – it’s to create an entirely new and exciting app that is worthy of public investment and user attention. We don't think Snap Originals will be the savior they need but only time will tell.