Snapchat started as a social communication tool which focusses on visual communication. I still remember being one of the first 50.000 downloaders (Android) in 2012.
What started as a simple selfie-photo-messaging app evolved into a complex mix of sharing videos, messaging, calling, brand advertising, AR filters and masks, live events and more. Around 5 years after its initial release, Snapchat filed for its IPO. During this journey, Mark Zuckerberg wanted to acquire Snapchat for $3 Billion. Now analysts expect Snap Inc. to go public at a valuation between $20 billion and $25 billion in March 2017. This would be the largest IPO since Alibaba which went public at a valuation of $168 billion in 2014.
From Social Media to Augmented Reality
Snapchat started as a social media company. But it became much more than that. Have a look at Snap’s S-1 form and you will immediately read on a yellow background: “Snap Inc. is a camera company.”
Snapchat started as a photo messaging app. Over the time it added besides of video functionality and Snapchat Stories the following features:
– Smart Filters: Time stamps, temperature, speeds
– Geofilters: Location-Specific artwork
– Lenses: Users can barf rainbows
– Spectacles: Sunglasses with an integrated video camera
You can sort all of these features into the category of Augmented Reality. Snapchat is already combining computer-generated graphics with GPS data by applying it to the real reality. And even more surprisingly: The Snapchat Spectacles have already a hidden inbuilt AR feature:
Found a cool @Spectacles secret! If you point your Snapchat camera at package’s lettering, it gives you a special filter!
How it works: pic.twitter.com/wPSVpQjk5T
— Moshe Isaacian ???? (@MosheIsaacian) November 23, 2016
Snap’s Investments into AR
Snap Inc. wants to “invest in product innovation and take risks to [their] camera platform”. By having a short look onto Snapchat recent acquisitions we can clearly see that they are becoming an “Augmented Reality Company”. Snapchat acquired the augmented reality startup Cimagine Media in December 2016 and computer vision startup Seene in June 2016. Seene is a startup which uses face-scanning technology to transform 2D images into 3D images. This is a core functionality of augmented reality.
Snapchat also reported that advertisement accounted for 96% of its total revenue. Most of this advertisement revenue is augmented reality advertising. Brands can buy custom filters and even masks which are both AR marketing. If Snapchat continues to grow its advertising satisfaction we will see a lot more companies going into AR advertising. This will result in an overall excitement for AR in general.
Will Snapchat focus on AR communication?
I think that Snapchat will bring the Augmented Reality technology to the next level. After Instagram mimicked Snapchat’s core feature – the Snapchat Stories – Snapchat will maybe refocus on AR communication and AR marketing technology.
It is already the most successful AR company with its filters and masks being used all over the world of more than 150 million users daily. The Spectacle glasses are also the world’s simplest AR glasses and clearly a successor of the Google Glasses. I am very excited to see in which direction Snapchat will shift after completing its initial public offering successfully.
What do you think about Snapchat’s future?