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article imageQ&A: What Snap's plans to launch APIs means Special

By Tim Sandle     Jul 2, 2018 in Technology
Snap announced plans to launch APIs, but the company won’t share much of its user data with developers. What is the significance of this move? Patric Palm, CEO and co-founder of Favro explains.
Patric Palm is a founder and investor. Palm co-founded Swedish project management tools Favro and Hansoft. In conversation with Digital Journal, Palm expands on what this Snapchat's decision in reltion to application programming interfaces (API) means for the developer community, and what this also means for other tech companies.
Palm notes in particular that while Snap seems to have learned from Facebook’s mistakes, the timing of this API announcement opens the company to scrutiny.
Digital Journal: How surprising is it that Snapchat launched four new APIs?
Patric Palm: I don’t think it’s surprising that Snapchat is launching four new public APIs. Rather, it’s surprising that it took them so long to do it. One might wonder, “Why did Snapchat wait so long to do it?” I think it has a little bit to do with the company being overconfident — Things were going very well and they had the IPO.
DJ: Which APIs provide Snapchat with the most opportunities?
Palm: I think one important comment to make here is that it’s actually several APIs. One of the most interesting APIs that Snapchat released is the ability to use your Snapchat account to authenticate logging in to other apps. They say they’re not going share as much data as Facebook did, which is probably true. But this is interesting because Facebook has been extremely successful in making Facebook your standard way of logging in to other apps. Microsoft tried to do the same thing with something called “Passport” many, many years ago and it never really took off. Facebook has basically been able to create that. But now in the wake of Cambridge Analytica, app developers are being increasingly cautious about this.
So, here’s an opportunity for Snapchat, especially for app developers targeting a younger audience where Snapchat is very strong, to get users to use the app for authentication. There’s a window of opportunity in the market for Snapchat to actually be successful with this particular API.
DJ: Which one will bring the most challenges?
Palm:The trickiest API is the one that allows other apps to post to Snapchat stories. Obviously, if you have other apps using Snapchat as a way to log in, you have a pretty good opportunity to capture that audience. But, this is a bigger bet because what they want to achieve is a centerplace for how you consume, and that place for that would be Snapchat stories. That's only going to work if other apps are actually going to do that.
Further, Snapchat is making it clear that they're going to be very strict with which apps they approve, which is probably a very smart move. Historically, kind of true to ages of technology, going back all the way to the 80s, and computer games like Atari versus Nintendo, more curated marketplaces tend to work better as they ensure quality. So, taking that kind of very strict approach is probably a good thing for Snapchat. It’s probably better that they will have a few, very popular, very good apps feeding into their stories. Otherwise, the place gets crowded with low quality things that can interrupt.
DJ: What does the news mean for the tech industry?
Palm:It’s very hard to talk about what Snapchat is doing without talking about Instagram. Snapchat is being very challenged by Instagram Stories. And now, Instagram is creating a lot of cool updates, like Instagram TV. It’s really putting the pressure on Snapchat — Creating an arms race among the social giants.
Also, there was a very interesting article in Bloomberg News, it was talking about how Instagram is doing really well, and Facebook has all this trouble now. One of the things, which is good for Instagram, is that most people apparently don’t know Instagram is owned by Facebook. They see it as something different, and Facebook is quite happy with that right now.
In the U.S. Facebook has decreased and Instagram keeps growing.
More about Snap, snapchat, apis, Privacy
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