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article imageFacebook is building a competitor to Snapchat

By James Walker     May 18, 2014 in Technology
Facebook is reportedly building a new video-sharing service of its own to enable it to directly compete against the immensely-popular Snapchat.
Rumours indicate that company CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg is personally overseeing the creation of the product and is aiming to build an 'ephemeral messaging app' which will enable his company to take on Snapchat's dominance of the short video-sharing market.
According to the Financial Times, the finished app could be ready for release on all major smartphone platforms by the end of this month and is being developed under the name of 'Slingshot'.
Although the title could change before it hits the app stores, Slingshot is an interesting name that could perhaps point towards Zuckerberg's ambitions - to 'slingshot' past Snapchat and gain the market lead. It also resonates with Snapchat and so is easy for people to associate themselves with.
Snapchat enables users to take a short video or photo and then send it to any other user. The service is unique in one important aspect: the sender of the message can choose how long the recipient can view it for from a duration of 1-10 seconds. Because of this, the service has grown to be incredibly popular - particularly with young people - who enjoy the freedom it inspires knowing that people will not be able to view what they send for longer than they specify. The service is not as secure as many believe, however. It has been hacked several times in the recent past and people by-pass the specified viewing duration for messages by simply screen-shotting them.
Facebook is obviously very enthusiastic, however, about the service that Snapchat provides as this is the third known attempt by the company to encroach on Snapchat's popularity and success. The first was in 2012 with a video-sharing app called 'Poke' that was very quickly abandoned and universally regarded as a terrible product. Even Mark Zuckerberg himself tried to disown it by saying it "was a joke".
The company's efforts became more concentrated last year, though, when Facebook offered to buy Snapchat for $3 billion - an offer that was quickly declined. Now it looks as though the companies are going to end up going head-to-head in a fight for dominance of the quick video-messaging market. This is backed up as the company recently said they would be launching a series of simple but high-quality apps during 2014 and a Snapchat rival would certainly fit those criteria.
Facebook certainly has a long way to go, however, before they can successfully topple the extensive kingdom that Snapchat has built for themselves across the past three years. It will be an up-hill struggle but with Facebook now also owning the popular instant messaging service WhatsApp, as well as their own Messenger, it is definitely possible if resources from all three are pulled together to make one ultra-efficient, simple and most-importantly effective product. Perhaps this is what Slingshot is intended to be.
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