If you can’t buy them, copy them.
That’s the approach Facebook seems to have decided on for Snapchat, the fast-growing app Mark Zuckerberg tried to buy in 2013 for around $3 billion, and which is now planning an IPO that could value it as highly as $40 billion.
Now Zuckerberg has a new mantra for the future of sharing on Facebook that’s directly inspired by Snapchat: “the camera is the composer.”
Zuckerberg shared the battle cry during an all-hands meeting with Facebook employees over the summer, according to someone familiar with the meeting. Since then, Facebook has rolled out a number of features that can best be described as Snapchat clones — the most obvious being Facebook-owned Instagram’s Stories feature.
Facebook internally refers to the box above the News Feed where you can share a new status as the “composer.” That box hasn’t changed much over the past decade, but expect it to as Facebook keeps making the camera a more prominent part of its experience.
“The new camera”
On Friday, Facebook announced a completely revamped camera interface in its main app that sends goofy selfies that disappear after 24 hours.
The test, which it simply calls “the new camera,” is first being made available in Ireland before rolling out to everyone.
A Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider on Friday that the new camera design was in response to two trends the company observed: People are sharing more photos and videos than ever before, and they want a way to share them with only close friends, not their entire friend demographic.
Both trends have been happening on Snapchat for years.
Chris Cox, Facebook’s product chief, shed more light on Facebook’s camera focus earlier this week at The Wall Street Journal’s tech conference.
“It’s an area of work we’re really invested in, which is making it easy for the camera to be an early application of AR,” he said.
He then demoed one of Facebooks’ new “reactive” filters for live video that replicates the styles of famous paintings. Zuckerberg later shared another demo on his Facebook page.
Snapchat has always been an incredibly visual social network — people primarily use it to share mundane or silly photos that disappear after they’re viewed.
Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel has also regularly stated that his app opens to the camera by default to encourage people to share and be creative and Snapchat has already rebranded itself to Snap Inc., “the camera company,” as it prepares for its IPO.
Facebook may have missed its chance on owning the camera company, but it hasn’t given up on being the camera.
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