Well… This is a surprise. After spending three years trying to buy and create a more successful clone of Snapchat, Instagram (and by extension, Facebook) have shamelessly ripped off Snapchat Stories with an identical feature named “Instagram Stories.”
So let’s start with that elephant in the room – it’s essentially a carbon copy of the Stories concept, from the destructible posts to the continuous playlist of your friends’ snaps.
Hell, even Instagram’s CEO, Kevin Systrom, said that the ghostly social network “deserve all the credit,” in a surprisingly frank comment to TechCrunch. After that, he went on to defend the move in a lot of exposition about how no tech company in Silicon Valley is the first to make anything, but the clear admission is there.
Facebook just made the biggest competitive move against Snapchat through Instagram.
Now let’s not forget this battle has been going on for a while, starting with the rejection of a $3 billion all-cash offer from Facebook.
Ever since then, Facebook has tried hard to create a Snapchat-killing clone. First there was Poke, then we had Slingshot, and finally there was Bolt. All of these, which progressively were built to be more and more identical to Snapchat, failed miserably.
You could class this as their hail Mary – Facebook/Instagram have literally copied the story feature.
So why did they copy it?
Simple, Snapchat is massive. The user base and time spent on the app is rapidly increasing, and Facebook/Instagram want a piece of that pie.
Facebook’s user base is getting older, and younger audience sign ups have been heavily reported to be on a downward spiral. Instagram doesn’t have this problem, but the increasing quality of photography has put a certainly higher psychological bar on the question “what makes a good picture?”
So with a lack of connection to younger people, or Instagram users who don’t want to share anything, something needed to be done.
Should Snapchat be worried?
In one word – no. In two words – hell no. But since you’ve come here for more detail, allow me to divulge.
Yes, Instagram have shamelessly stolen Stories here. But IG have taken the function and made it simple for the masses.
Snapchat’s common problem has been its confusing interface – millennials have taken to this learning curve, this UI gamification of sorts, like wildfire. Whereas adults have scratched their heads and frequently complain about not knowing how to use the service.
Instagram replaces swipes for taps, and symbolic buttons for clear labels. It’s a Snapchat that’s accessible to older people, and that’s the exact reason why Snapchat should not be worried.
It’s still a microcosm of millennial conversation.
So what does this mean for the future?
Look, I’m sat here ranting about this shameless rip off, which has been done out of desperation because Snapchat has begun eating into Instagram’s influence. But chances are you’re going to still use it, and I’m still going to use it.
Immediately, I see people are using it to either exactly like Snapchat or to promote their own Snapchat. With that shadow hanging over it, Stories won’t be used any differently to what people are used to.
Maybe it will get its own personality in the future – turning into a conversation tool more than a broadcasting medium. Maybe Facebook’s recent purchase of live filter and face swap company MSQRD will be implemented. Differing audience tastes will ultimately impact the type of content people post, meaning they may end up using this same story feature just like Instagram.
Whatever happens, it’s clear to see this is a bit of a dick move on Instagram’s party; but one I’m not surprised to see given Facebook’s previous track record. Guess we’ll wait and see what happens.
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.