They didn’t even give it a different name.
On Tuesday Facebook Inc. continued its copycatting of Snapchat, the mobile messaging app it once tried to buy for $3 billion. This time Facebook-owned Instagram cloned Snapchat’s uber-popular Stories format.
Instagram Stories doesn’t only take the name of Snapchat’s product that lets people stitch photos and videos into a collection available for 24 hours; it takes the features. Almost all of them.
Like on Snapchat, people will be able to add text, emojis and drawings on top of their photos and videos and decide whether to share the Stories on Instagram publicly to everyone who follows them or privately to certain friends. But unlike on Snapchat, for now people won’t be able to add filters — what Snapchat calls “lenses” — to their faces for photos and videos in Instagram Stories, an Instagram spokesperson confirmed. That’s kinda surprising since Facebook bought Masquerade whose app MSQRD lets people apply these masks to their selfies.
Less surprising, Instagram isn’t yet rolling out a way to make money from Stories. It took Snapchat a couple years before it started slotting ads between Stories last month, so it’s probably only a matter of time before Instagram does something similar, if not the same.
“We expect some businesses will experiment with Instagram Stories for sharing ephemeral content with specific audience. For example, businesses could use Instagram Stories at select moments through the year to share behind the scenes content. Over time we look forward to introducing new advertising and other business opportunities as part of Instagram Stories,” the Instagram spokesperson said in an email.
Instagram Stories isn’t an imaginative product, but it’s a smart one for Instagram to add. Snapchat Stories have been a hit, but they haven’t caught on with everyone. Like my girlfriend who got frustrated trying to figure out Snapchat and has decided to stick to Instagram. Now she has less of a reason to power through understanding Snapchat. If she wants to create this running multimedia diary, now she can do so on Instagram where she already has a grasp of the product and an established audience.
Considering that twice as many people use Instagram every day as those who use Snapchat every day, Instagram ripping off Snapchat is a way to try to head off the other photo-and-video-sharing app’s popularity by making Stories a commonplace product versus something unique to Snapchat.
Before today Snapchat was the only place to keep a running 24-hour narrative with annotated photos and videos. Now it’s not. And that’s why Facebook Inc. keeps pilfering its competitor’s product portfolio.