Snapchat, the instant picture messaging app that was first launched in July 2011 has since become a mainstream means of communication for people around the world. The power of Snapchat was recently reiterated when Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel declined Facebook’s $3 Billion offer for the app.
The instant picture and video messaging app originally began as a craze amongst teens but like Facebook has since become popular with people of all ages with an incredible 350 million snaps being sent every day. Is this the new way of instant communication?
What is Snapchat?
Snapchat users are able to send pictures and short video clips and send them to a list of contacts (they’re friends who have the Snapchat app) and choose how long these pictures or videos can be viewed for. Short video clips have a limited amount of recording time whilst users can select images to be viewed for between 1 and 10 seconds each. When this time is up, the image or video self-destructs and cannot be viewed again. A favorite image can be saved to one’s phone however by holding down the home button and lock switch on an iPhone for example, to save it to the smartphone’s gallery.
What’s the Point in Sending Content that Disappears?
We only save what we want to keep: The very success of Snapchat is partly due to the self-destruction of content which is sent between users via the app; it is what separates the platform from text messaging apps such as Whatsapp. In the case of text messaging and Whatsapp, all communicative information is saved and we delete what we don’t like or don’t want to see again. Snapchat on the other hand encourages users to save only what they want to keep. It’s a different take on direct messaging which is clearly working very well.
It’s wonderfully unintrusive: If one’s sitting at home watching TV and doesn’t particularly have anything to say but wants to get a snap shot in to what their friends are up to, Snapchat is perfect. Senders can also see when recipients have opened a Snapchat or not so I can also see if they’re busy and not around to chat at the moment. Unlike text messaging there’s no noisy announcement every time a message is received; it’s just there when you have a moment to look at your phone.
Do we need to keep every image we’re sent? It may be the case that I want to see the new dress you just bought, but I don’t need to keep a picture of it, I just want to have a quick look.
Snapchat vs. Text Messages
Texting conversations play on the foundations of our real life conversations. An opening greeting is usually required, and conversations usually end when a question has been answered, or plans arranged. Snapchat does against these norms, as Evan Spiegel, the founder of Snapchat, explains to TechCrunch, “you don’t have to set a time to talk to someone, and you never have to say goodbye.”
A text message is a text message, but what will your next Snapchat be? Is it more exciting to wonder what you’re going to be looking at next?
Perhaps its much more engaging to receive a Snapchat than it is a text message. An image of my friend’s fed-up looking squashed-up face amongst tonnes of other London commuters on the early morning train is much more amusing that receiving a unimpressed text. As Frederick R. Bernard said “a picture paints a thousand words.”
Do you think that communicating with more pictures and less words is the way forward, or is Snapchat just a phase? Let us know what you think over on Google+.