Snapchat – Fad or Revolution?
In a world where privacy is paramount, what would happen if images and video could not be stored but became temporary entities, shared and then destroyed? This is the model of the trending application Snapchat and to say I am hooked would be something of an understatement.
Snapchat allows users that are friends to share short low quality videos and single images with friends on a timer until they disappear forever. Although this may not sound appealing it becomes akin to sharing notes in a classroom. The “Snap” feels like a secret or private moment in the life of your friends which results in a knee-jerk laugh, gasp or scream. Shock factor, comedy and wit all go down well where users can be creative enough to keep friends entertained on this most curious of publishing platforms. Having said this there are downsides to the tool and personally I feel these need to be corrected pronto if the application is to survive long enough to get sold to a larger publisher or go IPO alone. These missing features today include:
- the “snaplist” of notifications is too short: sending ten friends 4 chats a day wipes the thing completely so it is impossible to look back and see who you are spamming
- the one way nature of the communication method is heart-sinking: it is not possible to tell a friend that their snap was clever or funny. It is also impossible to pass messages back and forth as the snaps do not have a relationship with one another like an email thread might
- Snaps can get competitive in terms of how good they are but there is no rating system or way or confirming that indeed one of your friends deserves to start their own self-produced tv production on youtube.
- Video Quality is very poor, it is impossible to make out writing so filming notes or signs is a waste of time
- The screenshot feature should be completely disabled using a more clever viewing methodology on images such as a flickering screen which would make it more likely that a screenshot tool would just capture a blank screen
- It is not possible to amend names in the contact list for relevance – usernames are rarely an indication of a friends actual name
In terms of privacy Snapchat would be a great way for celebrities or high profile figures to communicate with each other without risking exposure (on video only), but it needs a gratification layer to hook in interest long term.
At the moment Snapchat is pulling me away from Facebook and making me feel more in touch with my closest friends. The reach that this tool has given me to build up friendships again with pals in far flung location is a great reason to keep using it, but fad or revolution? I think Facebook needs to take a long look at this app in consideration for its own product set based purely on the diversion of attention. This application is trending now.