That’s a question that has left all of us feeling paradoxical emotions. Well, not only has Facebook been copying Snapchat for a while - by cloning most of its prominent features - it has also faced a significant amount of criticism from the audiences and the pundits. Even the CEO of Snapchat Evan Spiegel's fiancée, Miranda Kerr, isn't pleased by Facebook's actions. Here’s what she had to say:
“Can they not be innovative? Do they have to steal all of my partner’s ideas? I’m so appalled by that . . . When you directly copy someone, that’s not innovation. It’s a disgrace. How do they sleep at night?”
The sad part is that even after knowing all of this, Facebook is still going ahead with the cloning of the services and designs of Snapchat.
Losing Its Charm
Facebook first started getting inspired by Snapchat’s work back in 2013. We have come a long way since then with developments in both the apps, but it more or less feels like Snapchat came up with new updates and Facebook just kept cloning it. Having a lot of users and a feeling of ubiquity backfired for Facebook as almost everyone you knew was on Facebook and it started becoming a bit of a trouble for the younger crowd. Also, with the introduction of ads, Facebook had now started exercising control on the news feed. And with the audience getting acute about their interest in Facebook, Snapchat launched at the right time and managed to gain the attention of audiences lost by Facebook.
Fear of Competition
Even before 2013, we have observed Facebook being scared of its competitors. They always managed to detect and eliminate any platform that came close to being a potential competitor. This has been exemplified by their act of buying Instagram. At first, they were going to launch a competitive app with similar features to Instagram, but then they held back with the fear of competing with some brand and ended up buying them as a defence mechanism. This seems to be a pattern because we also saw Facebook buying WhatsApp in an attempt to attain sole supremacy.
Let’s Buy Snapchat
Well, as the heading goes, Facebook tried to repeat the act of buying the competitor. But it did not go very well for the owners of Facebook. They also tried to launch a separate app to compete with Snapchat, but then decided against it because of past instances. In an earlier face-off at the beginning of Snapchat’s career, the owners at Facebook had also claimed that Snapchat did not have a chance against them and would fail as a platform. When Snapchat finally developed an audience for itself and started flourishing, Facebook made an offer of $3 billion dollars. To Facebook's disappointment, the offer was refused by them.
In their defence, Facebook did not have much of a choice but to replicate what Snapchat was doing. It was probably the only profitable way for them to go ahead with it. They couldn’t possible sit there and watch Snapchat consume their audiences at a steady pace.
In their path towards supremacy, Facebook probably did not have much of a choice and had to eventually adopt features from other apps to keep itself going. It is also always easier to lack innovation rather than lose the market share!