Facebook ahead in the game
Last week Facebook released some user information that revealed its Snapchat-similar features are outperforming the image-messaging app.
Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced to analysts that Instagram Stories has over 200 million daily active users. Comparatively, Snap had 161 million daily active users at the end of last year. Snap is expected to report earnings later this month, but analysts predict that it won’t catch up to Facebook’s user base.
Though some research indicates that younger users still opt to use Snapchat as their preferred multimedia application, Facebook has dismissed these findings.
Moreover, Zuckerberg is keen on making Snap’s hallmark augmented reality features central to Facebook’s future. Zuckerberg believes that augmented reality – led by Facebook rather than Snap’s Lenses – will replace TV and other media platforms.
Following the launch of Facebook’s augmented reality ‘Camera Effects’ platform, Zuckerberg claimed that Facebook has overtaken Snapchat in the race to provide visual communication. Whilst Zuckerberg admitted, “I think we were a little bit late to the trend initially around making cameras the centre of how sharing works”, he notes, “making an open platform…is a big step forward…And I would expect us to continue leading the way forward on this from this point on.”
In regards to monetizing the augmented reality platform, Zuckerberg imagines that eventually you’ll be able to point the Facebook app’s camera at an object and the app will recognize what it is and a ‘Buy’ button will appear. Though for now, Facebook has not authorised for any advertising, logos, branding or commerce experiences to appear on its AR platform.
The new platform means Facebook will need to enlist the help of outside developers to build AR content for users. In contrast, Snapchat has notably maintained an ‘anti-developer’ attitude. The AR platform may allow Facebook to offer thousands of different AR selfie filters, imaginary objects and interactive experiences, while Snapchat currently only provides around 20.
Snapchat pioneered the visual communication approach through its curated set of AR selfie filters and this originally gave it a big lead over Facebook. Though with its massive headcount, steady profits, and history with developers, Facebook has now closed the gap.