Microsoft latest to imitate Snapchat with Skype facelift

We’ve often said we’re not too sure what the point of Snapchat is, maybe we’re too old, but they must be doing something right as Microsoft has become the latest tech giant to introduce copycat features.

The Skype platform has undergone somewhat of a facelift, introducing a number of new features, some of which are remarkably similar to Snapchat. One of these is Highlights, which allows the user to take a series of photos throughout the day before posting them in one go to update your connections on what you’ve been up to. Sound familiar?

It should do, because Instagram do it, and many would accuse the Facebook-owned snapping app of stealing the idea from Snapchat. And they aren’t even denying it. Recently in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said they were building on the initial idea, in the same way other car manufacturers used the Model T to kick start an automobile revolution.

We shouldn’t really be surprised to be completely honest. History only remembers the winners. And the winners are not necessarily the ones who do something first, but the ones who do it the best. How many people could name 110m hurdler Colin Jackson outside the UK? He was a world-record holder, but never won the gold at the Olympics. It’s a slight grasp at a parallel, but maybe similar enough.

Aside from the Highlights feature, there is also more of a focus on bots, which should again come as little surprise as the Conversation-as-a-Service platform is a revenue growth area for them. Facebook has also taught them a few lessons about what not to do with bots in a messaging service. There are also the features which you would expect from Skype; group chat, individual chat, calling services etc. By the looks of it, the majority of the launch is cosmetic.

For the Snapchat team, the copycatting should be viewed in one light as a compliment, but also a slight worry. Instagram or Microsoft might not be doing anything better, but they have more users. The Instagram numbers show more people are using their Stories features than Snapchat’s, therefore there is more engagement, and subsequently more commercial opportunity.

So yes, they are doing something which is worth copying, but unless they find a way to corner the market and uniquely commercialise the product for future features, Snapchat could end up going down the same road as Twitter; failing to live up to the promise of riches.

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