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Snapchat might be a real business after all

Snap Map

Just as we were thinking Snapchat was a one trick pony, it has started releasing features which hint at a viable business model. The latest update, a location feature, could threaten Google’s mapping dominance.

The team made a cheeky little acquisition last month, if you can call $250-350 million cheeky, in the form of social mapping start-up Zenly, according to TechCrunch. The Zenly app allows users to see where their friends are located using constant GPS running in the background. From here, users can then message friends to meet up or share events in the local area. This technology has been integrated into the Snapchat platform to create its latest feature; Snap Map.

Snap Map is relatively simple when you look at it. By pinching the screen when the camera is up and running, you zoom out onto a map which details where your friends are. You can then click on said friends to see what content they have uploaded. Maybe they are sat on the sofa, maybe they are at a gig, but it adds another dimension to Snapchat as an app. You are now not limited to the virtual world, you can actually live in real life as well.

“We’ve built a whole new way to explore the world! See what’s happening, find your friends, and get inspired to go on an adventure,” the team said on its blog.

“It’s easy to get started – just pinch to zoom out and view the Map! You decide if you want to share your location with friends, or simply keep it to yourself with Ghost Mode. If your friends are sharing their location with you, their Actionmoji will appear on the Map. Actionmojis only update when you open Snapchat.”

It’s an interesting move from the team, especially when you consider other brands have seemingly been stealing their ideas in recent months. Now, the tables have turned and Snap seems to be leaning on inspiration from the likes of Facebook and Google.

Facebook has long had a feature allowing users to check-in with their followers, revealing their locations on the newsfeed. On the Google side of things, the search giant has long been the top-dog when it comes to mapping technologies, creating an effective business model around advertising and recommendations.

Snapchat hasn’t stated it wants to enter into the world of mapping advertising, but it would seem like a logical step. Taking the social element from Facebook and combining with the Zenly mapping technology creates a potential advertising platform which steals ideas from everyone else, but creates something new.

The new feature also leans on the experiences of non-friends, taking the experience into a new area once again. Using a heat map, Snapchats are collated from all users in the area, potentially indicating to the user of an event which might be taking place in the area. Once again, opening the door to potential advertising and recommendation revenue opportunities.

A couple of months back we questioned what the point of Snapchat was as it looked to have very limited potential. But, dare I say it, we are on the verge of being proved wrong. We’re actually quite looking forward to the next update, and might be tempted to download the app.


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