No matter how hard Facebook tries, its Instagram Stories and Messenger Days can’t seem to dethrone the original Snapchat app in the US. But in emerging markets, Facebook still has an opportunity to become leader.
Ever since Snapchat rejected Facebook’s $3 billion buyout offer in 2013, Mark Zuckerberg’s social network has been creating imitations to fight the app’s success. The latest copycat attempt is a standalone app launched in Brazil on Nov. 8 called Flash, which allows people to send ephemeral text and video messages. The app will let you “add fun face masks, draw and send disappearing messages,” Snapchat’s signature features.
Flash could give Snapchat a run for its money in emerging markets, where users are strapped for data and storage space. The app takes up less than 25 megabytes as opposed to Snapchat, which consumes over 70 MB. It also comes with data saving features like loading media only after a user prompts interest in viewing it, caching media over Wifi when possible, and allowing for an offline mode where “Flashes” will be sent after connectivity is regained. Users will also be able to post through the app even when the internet is patchy or limited.
“We specifically built Flash to bring a great experience to Android users regardless of their data connection or phone mode,” a Facebook spokesperson told Quartz. Since iPhones aren’t popular in price-sensitive markets beyond the west, debuting on Android—the operating service running the vast majority of the world’s smartphones—was a calculated choice. To gain users who don’t switch out handsets frequently, the app supports most Android devices released in the last four years. An iOS release has not yet been announced.
Launching in Brazil first could help the app gain traction by piggybacking on the success of Facebook and WhatsApp in the country. The latter, which Facebook bought in 2014, is king among the messaging apps, with over 100 million users in Brazil.he Menlo Park giant is instead looking to make a mark in places like Brazil, where only 9% of the population uses Snapchat.Flash will roll out to other markets following the test in Brazil.
Facebook has a long history of going after Snapchat, which boasts 150 million active daily users. Here are some highlights:
- 2012: Facebook released Poke, only to pull it back over a year later.
- 2013: Facebook attempted to buy the real deal. Snapchat says no thanks, which looks like a very smart move.
- 2014: The now-shuttered Slingshot app was based on the same ephemeral technology but users could only unlock their friends’ messages once they sent one back.
- Aug. 2016: Facebook launched Instagram Stories, a blantant rip off of Snapchat’s stories feature. (At least, it gave credit.)
- Sept. 2016: Stories for Messenger is introduced. And since these messages last 24 hours, the feature was dubbed Messenger Day.
- Oct. 2016: Facebook made a failed bid to acquire Snapchat’s Asian doppelgänger, Snow, owned by the creators of popular messaging app Line.
- Nov. 2016: WhatsApp got its own photo and doodles feature with a 24-hour limit called “Status.”