Facebook has been trying to squash Snapchat for a long time. Remember (the other) Poke? Or Slingshot? Or that time it tried to buy the company outright? None of those really worked out. Over the past year, though, Mark Zuckerberg and company appear to have found a way to stunt Snapchat’s growth: Make a total rip-off, but do so within an app that’s already massively popular.
That app, Instagram, added its Snapchat-aping “Stories” feature last August, almost a full five years after Snapchat launched. But according to an Instagram announcement earlier this month, the feature has already hit 200 million daily users. As this chart from Statista shows, that’s not only up from the 150 million users Instagram Stories had in January, it’s also well above Snapchat’s last reported daily user count. (We’ll get an update to the latter on May 10.)
This doesn’t mean people will suddenly stop using Snapchat; it’s still hard to tell how many people go to Instagram specifically for the Stories bit. But that’s not really the point. You can bemoan Facebook’s robotic lack of innovation all you want, but the reality is that all of its apps are huge. It’s never had to out-design Snapchat to stop it from siphoning off users and potential ad dollars.
If anything, the smartest thing Facebook could do is a rip-off; then, the battle becomes about which app is more likely to have more people you care about using it. Instagram, with its 600 million users, will usually win that fight. (Facebook’s three (!) other Snapchat clones don’t seem to be doing so hot, yes, but Instagram’s audience and core product are closest to Snapchat.) People may not leave Snapchat in droves because of Instagram Stories, but they’re probably less likely to download it in the first place. That’s good news for Facebook, creative pride be damned.
- Mike Nudelman/Business Insider/Statista