For a brief moment, Facebook seemed to admit that copycatting wasn’t advantageous. The social network just got done killing off two of its very unoriginal apps: Camera and Poke, respectively the poor man’s Instagram and Snapchat, respectively.
But following the gracious move, it appears that after failing to acquire Snapchat outright, Facebook is not done trying to recreate some of the messaging app’s massive popularity.
According to the Financial Times, Facebook has been working on a new video chat app, known internally as Slingshot, for several months. The top-secret project—with which Mark Zuckerberg is said to be personally involved—will feature a "simple and speedy interface" that lets users send short video messages with "just a couple of taps of the screen." The report shared few details about the app, but it could allegedly resemble TapTalk, which lets users tap a contact's profile picture to send them a photo or a short video that can only be viewed once by the recipient.
If it gets the go-ahead, Slingshot could launch later this month.
While Poke and Camera didn't take off, Facebook clearly hasn't given up on challenging its competition. Snapchat's ephemeral messaging service is especially popular among younger users, who seem to be migrating away from the more established social network in droves. This month, Snapchat also debuted text messaging and video calling, filling out its service even more.
Facebook has affirmed its commitment to creating—and purchasing—standalone apps that can integrate with the social network (the latter of these two strategies comes with the benefit of innocuously gathering massive troves of data about an service’s users, as well).
Slingshot could easily suffer the same fate as Poke and Camera, which users rightfully viewed as poorly executed clones of Snapchat and Instagram. If Zuckerberg and Co. have learned from the missteps of Poke and Camera, Slingshot will have to offer something that Snapchat doesn't—or do it many times better.
Geoff Blaber, a mobile analyst at CCS Insight, told the Financial Times, "When you’re coming to market late and trying to compete with what is already a service with a very large user base, it becomes very difficult to close that gap, even for a company like Facebook."
Facebooks response when we inquired about Slingshot?
"We typically don't comment on rumors."
H/T The Financial Times | Illustration by Jason Reed