Last year I went from skeptic to admirer, and ultimately fervent user of Snapchat.
Yesterday’s app update brings disappearing text conversations, and real-time video chat to the platform - and while I’ve struggled a bit to get it to work (no doubt some initial scaling challenges) when it does it’s quite fun.
Snapchat is deepening a very meaningful position for itself in the world of messaging. Namely they nail “the now.”
At first, self-destructing images seem like a gimmick, but as I argue in my link above, it creates real psychological “oomph” to every message, no matter how inane, that focuses user attention squarely on something that feels like it’s happening right now; do not blink, you will miss this.
That differentiator (or ‘gimmick’ if you can possibly still be skeptical) has allowed Snapchat to achieve the kind of scale and network that grants real staying power.
And in a world of me-too messaging apps, Snapchat is doubling down on that feeling of “the now” by moving that oomph from images into temporary chat convos, subtle (and not so subtle notifications) about who is interacting with you in this moment, and real-time video. Instead of using their scale to justify “generifying” their offering to fall in line with other messaging apps & feature expectations (a plausible path), they are continuing to carve out novel features for their messaging platform of “the now.” There is no history, like real-life, what happens in Snapchat happens but once, and we all move on.