In a curious move, Apple appears to be exploring a move into social networking.
According to a new report by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple is developing a Snapchat-like app that lets you share video clips with friends. Like with Snapchat, you can edit your videos with filters, drawings, and stickers.
If the project gets approved, the app could launch as early as 2017, the report says.
It’s a strange move for Apple, which has been adverse to creating social networking apps in the past, especially after failures like iTunes Ping and the Connect feature in Apple Music.
And just last week, Apple’s senior vice president Eddy Cue told Fast Company that Apple isn’t trying to make Apple versions of every popular app, using social networking as an example:
“I mean, we don’t do every app,” he said in the Fast Company interview. “We’re not trying to create a Facebook app. We think they do a great job.”
Instead, Cue said, Apple focuses on making apps that are core to the iPhone experience, like maps, mail, and calendar.
The move makes even less sense when you take into account the fact Apple already has a massive, successful social network: iMessage.
iMessage is built into hundreds of millions of Apple devices already, from iPhones to iPads to Macs, and is about to get a major overhaul with loads of new social networking features in the upcoming iOS 10 and macOS Sierra software that will launch later this month.
In fact, iMessage is already one of the most valuable assets keeping people locked into Apple’s ecosystem. It’s arguably more important to the stickiness of iOS than any other app that comes included with the iPhone. If it were somehow spun out as its own company, iMessage would be worth millions (billions?) just for its daily active users.
So, if Apple does end up releasing a Snapchat-like video app, it will be interesting to see if it’s a standalone app or built into iMessage or Apple Photos, which are already popular and built into the iPhone.
Apple doesn’t need to build a new social networking app. It already has a massively successful one with iMessage that it can experiment with instead.