WhatsApp follows Snapchat with disposable stories

Transience, it seems, is the order of the day in an increasingly throwaway society. Snapchat’s once-revolutionary practice of allowing photos and videos to expire after a set amount of viewing time was adopted by Instagram last summer, and now it seems WhatsApp has followed suit with Status, a new “stories”-based feature.

Facebook’s variations of the Snapchat model differ (from each other, that is); where Instagram Stories are designed for public sharing, Status will be end-to-end encrypted, much like WhatsApp messaging itself. Users of the app can release updates to their contacts, and can send private responses to their friends’ updates. Privacy settings can be adjusted to control who sees what, and, in a move particularly reminiscent of Snapchat, pictures can be drawn over. However, sending pictures and videos to specific friends will still be done through messages.

WhatsApp’s fanbase is considerable; it has garnered more than 1.2 billion monthly users, and TechCrunch reports that 60 billion messages are sent per day. The exposure is enormous, making Status a desirable target for digital advertisers. We’ve seen this happen with Instagram Stories, which capitalised on its popularity by interspersing adverts between individual stories seen by its 150 million users.

With many Snapchat loyalists jumping ship to Instagram’s more multi-faceted image-sharing hub, it’s likely that WhatsApp and its user-friendly messaging functionality could also poach business from the company. Research shows that Snapchat growth dwindled after the launch of Instagram Stories – TechCrunch reported that Snapchat’s growth slowed 82% during the aftermath (although this cannot be concretely attributed to Instagram Stories), as revealed in an IPO filing. What’s more, Snapchat’s failure to prosper thus far in Eastern Europe and South America means that Status could take hold those regions, not as a clone but as a revolutionary new tool, wrenching a largely untapped market from Snapchat.

In the fast-paced world of social media apps, competition drives the market forward, invoking necessary innovation to stay relevant. Snapchat’s recent foray into the world of social television bodes well – after all, if the majestic Planet Earth II can’t save them, what can?

Image: Luis, used under Creative Commons 

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