Snap Inc, Snapchat’s parent company, has filed for an initial public offering (IPO) and the company could go public by March 2017. According to an AP report, Snap Inc will be valued at $20-$25 billion, which makes it one of the largest technology IPO since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s went public two years ago valued at $170.9 billion.
Reuters first reported the filing this week and it was initially made on November 8. However, implications for Snap could be huge as the only significant revenue source for the company right now is its advertising sales. Snapchat, which has close to 100 million active users, has seen a quick growth since its launch in 2012. The messaging app is quite popular among youth and according to reports, 60 per cent Snapchat users are aged between 13-24 years. So what makes Snapchat so popular? Let’s take a look:
Snapchat offers filters and face masks which it calls Lenses. These are now available for rear camera as well. Filters or Lenses are easily the most popular feature on the app so much so that other rivals are exploring on how to add these to their apps as well.
You need to hold on to a picture for filters to appear, and swipe right to try out different ones. Snapchat recently introduced ‘World Lenses’ that adds Augmented Reality (AR) effects for the rear camera. The World Lens allows you to apply effects such as a foghorn or sleepy cloud rainbow to your surroundings.
The popularity of Snapchat filters has led to rivals Facebook and Instagram copying its features for their platform as well. Facebook itself is looking to introduce face filters for its camera app and has been testing out something similar in Brazil. India’s Hike Messenger is the latest to join the bandwagon by announcing a ‘My Story’ feature and face masks very similar to Snapchat.
Stories, Live Stories
Snapchat Stories are also immensely popular, and some Stories even tend to go viral. Stories lets you post a series of pictures and videos that appear in a slideshow format under ‘Your Story’ caption. However, the Stories disappear after 24 hours. You can see who has viewed your stories from the Settings menu. Stories of your friends appear one below another in the Stories section.
Instagram has the same Snapchat-styled Stories for its platform, which it launched quite recently. Stories on Instagram works pretty much like they do on Snapchat and photos/videos disappear in 24 hours.
There’s a ‘Live Stories’ option in Snapchat as well. Live Stories basically allows lets users post pictures and videos to live event that Snapchat might be broadcasting at the moment. For example, there’s a concert or festival like Coachella or even the US elections, regular users can send their stories to the ongoing live story.
Everyone on Snapchat can see this Live Story and the photos, videos sent to it. However to participate in a Live Story, you need to be present at the location and Snapchat will know this based on your location.
Snapchat is arguably one of the most popular apps among youth. According to a recent report in Bloomberg, the app has 150 million Daily Active Users (DAUs) making it bigger than Twitter which has 140 million DAUs. The report points out Snapchat has seen its DAU numbers grow from 110 million in December 2015 to 150 million in 2016. But these numbers have not yet officially confirmed by the company.
However, Snapchat’s growth isn’t surprising as the app is quite popular among Hollywood celebrities. In India, the app came to limelight when comedian Tanmay Bhatt posted a video mocking Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar. Snapchat is being widely used by quite a few big names such as Kylie Jenner (biggest Snapchat star), DJ Khaled, Kim Kardashian, etc. Some reports suggest, Snapchat generates 10 billion video views per day alone which is huge.
Snapchat launched its first hardware product called Snap in September. The company also rebranded itself as Snap Inc. Spectacles are $130-connected sunglasses that will shoot 10-second video snippets. Snap Inc’s connected Spectacles have a single button to record your snap and it uses a 115-degree wide angle lens to shoot videos, photos.
Snap Inc’s Spectacles are a marketed as a toy and fun product, but these are rolling out in limited quantities only. The smart Spectacles can connect with an Android or iOS device or the Snapchat app directly for users to share these videos. And these toys have proved to be quite popular; people are apparently ready to shell out $1000 to get their hands on Snap Spectacles.