- Snapchat lost millions of users after a heavily criticized redesign.
- Celebrities like Kylie Jenner have claimed they no longer use Snapchat.
- Facebook copied Snapchat’s most popular features for Instagram.
- Business Insider’s Shona Ghosh breaks down what’s going on with this once popular app.
Shona Ghosh: They made a few kind of missteps around things like the redesign not focusing on Android as much as they should have done, so there were definitely mistakes made by Snapchat. But, for sure, you could look at the story of Snapchat and say, essentially, Facebook may have ruined this quite-promising company.
So Snapchat is in a little bit of trouble. Its stock price has fallen substantially over the last couple of months. Snap has said it’s losing daily active users, and the worrying indication is that probably people aren’t using Snapchat as regularly as they used to. But, you know, it’s really difficult in the current environment to compete against Facebook ‘cause it’s got loads of money. It’s got the biggest online ad business alongside Google, and if you’re trying to sort of compete with the two of them, it’s really hard unless you have a lot of money and you have a lot of luck going your way in terms of attracting users.
The other disaster that Snapchat had was its redesign. What made Snapchat really popular with young people was that it was kind of difficult to understand. You had to really understand how apps work in a way that sort of young people really do and older people find a bit tougher. Unfortunately, it was a complete disaster. A lot of the loyal, younger users and celebrity users of the app, people like Rihanna quit. And Kylie Jenner, you know, said on Twitter, actually, I’m not that keen on opening the Snapchat app anymore, and it’s probably not really managed to recover from that disaster.
So, Snapchat has probably not done itself any favors by doing things like having a really terrible Android app. The app works much better on iPhone, and when Android is the most popular mobile ecosystem in the world, that’s a bit of a problem if your app for that ecosystem isn’t very good.
Then there are also lots of questions about its CEO and co-founder, Evan Spiegel, who's very young. Spiegel is still in his 20s which is, you know, insane to be leading a multi-billion dollar company as he is, but to do it successfully, you need to be a really good manager, and there are some signs that maybe Spiegel's a little bit secretive. He doesn't communicate that well with his team, so there's been a combination of factors that has probably made life quite difficult for Snapchat right now.
Facebook tried to buy Snapchat at least once, possibly twice, over the last few years, and so to kind of make up for that rejection, Facebook simply copied a lot of Snapchat's coolest features and put them into Instagram, and actually, Instagram stories is more popular than Snapchat stories.
It's going to be a really tough challenge to go up against things like TikTok, the really popular music app. Snap's sort of reputation has always been about being cool rather than useful, and so something like WhatsApp, which is a sort of Snapchat competitor in that it's a messaging platform. It's always gonna be popular because it's really useful. Unless Snpachat can sort of really show users that it's useful as well as cool, it's going to be really tough to get people back on the app if they've left.
You would be amazed at how long companies can limp along, even if they appear to be losing users. I think a really good example is Twitter, which everyone has been writing off for several years, but actually sometimes Twitter turns a profit. It's not doing brilliantly in terms of retaining users, but it's certainly not going down the toilet. I feel like Snapchat could perhaps be similar, and people do see it as an alternative to Facebook, So they may want to keep that alternative around. Snapchat could actually last for a very long time, even if it doesn't change very much, as long as it does keep rolling out some updates. It's possible it could go on for many years into the future.