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Snapchat squares off with Facebook

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Snapchat squares off with Facebook

Snapchat is throwing down the gauntlet with in the battle formost dominant messaging app.

The company's signature disappearing photo messagingapp recently launched an update — dubbed Chat 2.0 — that creates an easier wayto send video messages and makes its live video chat feature more intuitive,according to a Snapchat blog post. The updatealso added a batch of stickers for users, the ability to send GIFS and theability to make phone calls to other users.

The long-awaited update was heralded as a significantboost to Snapchat's already growing prominence in the social media sphere. Thecompany that turned down Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's reported $3 billionacquisition offer in 2013 has since seen its valuation balloon to $16billion. Chat 2.0 is seen by many as a direct challenge to Facebook'srecent moves to bolster its own messaging apps — Messenger and WhatsApp.Facebook introduced Messenger as a stand-alone app in 2011; it acquiredWhatsApp in 2014. Industry analysts have characterized both apps as the nextmonetizationfrontier.

"By doubling down on messaging, Snapchat is finallygoing toe-to-toe with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, its two largest rivalsin the space," wroteMaya Kosoff in Vanity Fair. "Butit's also a larger play for social-media domination, by creating an in-appecosystem designed to keep users inside Snapchat for as long as possible."


Snapchat feed
Source: Snapchat

Messenger boasted more than 800million monthly active users at the end of 2015 and WhatsApp had a billion users as ofFebruary. By comparison, Snapchat has more than 100million daily active users. But Snapchat executives say users view 8billion videos each day, which is on par with the number of daily videos viewedon Facebook, accordingto Bloomberg News.

Chat 2.0 is also seen by some as a challenge to telcocompanies. If consumers shift to calling through Snapchat or Facebook, it coulddisrupt how the companies do business, Kosoff said.

"You won't need to make phone calls on your phoneif you can use data (or Wi-Fi) to place a call within Facebook orSnapchat," Kosoff wrote.

As a whole, the company's updates are largely seen asa play for a broader audience that did not intuitively understand the app.

"The playfulness of the interface should resonate wellwith Snapchat's core millennial audience and help the company in its quest tobe the go-to social platform for spontaneous, unfiltered communication,"wrote Forbes' Kathleen Chaykowski in an articleheadlined, "Snapchat's Major Messaging Overhaul Makes The App Even MoreAddictive."

Chaykowski said the new features differentiateSnapchat from other platforms by making it easier for users to use and discoverthem. As Snapchat gained prominence in recent years, manyhave triedto explain how to use the transient messaging service to the masses, while alsooften suggesting that the app was geared more for youngergenerations.

Snapchat has taken a Facebook-esque approach tomonetization, developing its product with a user-first mindset beforeintegrating a monetization model. Josh Constine of TechCrunch wrote that the app'scommunication features are a means to entice users to explore Snapchat's otherfeatures.

"Nothing here has anything to do with monetizationdirectly," he wrote of the company's suite of communication tools."But the more people swipe right to chat, the more likely they'll wonderwhat's on the other side of Snapchat's camera, including Live Stories andDiscover channels that are filled with ads."

Media observers also pointed to a growing rivalry betweenFacebook and Snapchat for dominance in messaging. Chaykowski wrote thatSnapchat could take a cue from Facebook as far as monetization opportunities.

"Over the past year, Facebook Messenger launchedcab-hailing and several customer service tools, in addition to voice and videocalling. It's likely that Snapchat will follow suit in introducing shoppingfeatures and other services to the platform over time," she wrote.

Buzzfeed's Alex Kantrowitz, pointingto a Forrester Research studythat stated the majority of users spend most of their time on five non-nativeapps, said there is a battle to stay within that core group. Messaging isoffered as a means to stay among the most utilized apps, as users regularlyreturn to communicate with friends and family. From there, Kantrowitz saidcompanies can monetize through various partnerships.

"Whoever wins the messaging battle will be aconduit for all sorts of businesses that are being shut out of the "topfive" and still need to reach their audiences and customers," he said"It's a critical battle, and Snapchat's product release, over a year inthe making, looks to be a big part of the company's bid to remain a dominantmobile app for years to come."