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Instagram Leaks Photo Messaging Service

Facebook Getting Back In The Ring With Snapchat?

It was only last year that Snapchat rejected Facebook’s offer of $3 billion for the company, and just last month that Slingshot, an attempt to set up a rival for Snapchat, was made and launched by Facebook. But Slingshot is already failing among the slow bleed of younger users away from Facebook, and Snapchat itself has gone from strength to strength since they turned down Zuckerberg’s offer, even introducing their own self-deleting text messaging system into the app earlier this year.

Now it seems as though Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has accidentally leaked their own photo messaging app apparently called Bolt.

Instagram users on Android had a banner appear on the top of their screens reading ‘Introducing Bolt – One tap photo messaging’ which, when followed, lead only to a dead end in the Google Play Store. The banner was removed soon after it appeared, but it seems to have been an indicator that Facebook isn’t giving up on the world of photo messaging just yet.

Such leaks do have precedent for the company. Slingshot made a brief appearance on the Apple store before being removed and then officially released a few days later. In addition, Facebook’s modus operandi for new developments is to test them on a smaller group of users before rolling them out to the general population – this may have been a message intended for only a few users.

Another possibility is that Facebook is testing out the mechanics of banner adverts on Instagram, which is currently ad-free outside of the United States but which Zuckerberg has been intending to monetise for some time. Considering the backlash when Instagram introduced adverts directly into users’ photo stream, this may be an attempt to find a less intrusive way of increasing the app’s profitability.

It wouldn’t be out of the question, of course, that Facebook is simply attempting to resume its assault on Snapchat from another angle. Instagram has much the same demographic of users as Snapchat, the same demographic which are leaving Facebook for alternative social networking platforms.

Way back in 2012 Facebook launched Poke and Facebook Camera, apps for iPhone that allowed users to send self-destructing messages to one another and to take quick photos to upload to Facebook respectively. Both apps were taken off the market a couple of years later due to general lack of interest. Facebook Camera, a heavily Instagram-esque product, may have fallen out of favour after Facebook bought the actual Instagram around the same time as its release. Poke, however, simply fell prey to market forces and lost out to the far more popular Snapchat.

It seems unlikely that Facebook honestly believe that they can challenge Snapchat at this stage. If they are planning another takeover bid, however, then this may be a bout of chest-puffing, a demonstration of their willingness to chip away at Snapchat’s user base. Considering their record profits this quarter Facebook can certainly afford to throw some money at the problem, and if this takes enough of a chunk out of Snapchat to make the idea of a buy-out more palatable it may be worth it for Zuckerberg’s grand visions for the future of mobile messaging.

Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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Instagram Leaks Photo Messaging Service Reviewed by Anonymous on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 Rating: 5
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