Over the last few years, Snapchat has grown to become one of the biggest and most popular social media platforms in the world today. Since its inception in 2011, it has been extensively adopted, especially among teens and millennials.
According to various surveys, 26% of people aged between 12 and 24 said that they used the Snapchat app the most. So how did Snapchat get here? In this article, we will plunge into the history of Snapchat’s journey from a mere photo-sharing application to a major social media platform.
This application boasts of over 200 million daily users that consume about 800 hours of videos per second. Other than messaging, Snapchat also features Stories: these are videos or photos that can be rerun for 24 hours before they disappear. Snapchat’s “memories” is another feature that lets users save their photos to share in the future as well as stickers which are used to embellish messages.
The History of Snapchat
Evan Spiegel, the CEO and founder of Snapchat and Bobby Murphy- his co-founder- met at the Stanford University where they created the initial version of Snapchat, which was known as Picaboo. Their main goal was to create an application that would help users send photos to their friends that would eventually vanish. This led to the development of Picaboo, which was first launched in July 2011 in the iOS App Store.
After that, a new problem arose; Screenshots. Users were able to take screenshots of the photos loaded on Picaboo, making the disappearing aspect of Picaboo messaging app useless. This made the founders to incorporate a workaround solution that would take care of the screenshot problem. They developed a notification feature where users could be notified whenever a follower took a screenshot of their content.
In September 2011, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy rebranded the messaging app as Snapchat. They relaunched the application in the iOS App Store as Snapchat.
The founders focused more on improving the app’s technological improvements than marketing or branding it in an effort to make the user’s experience more natural. They wanted to build a tool that would make communication cooler than the traditional advertising.
On the 9th of May 2012, CEO Evan Spiegel published Snapchat’s first blog post explaining to users what they should expect from the application in the future. He said that Snapchat was not about capturing those Kodak moments. Instead, it was about interacting with the entire range of human emotions and not just conforming to unrealistic ideas of beauty and perfection. He described Snapchat as the answer to the stress that results from the permanency of personal data on social media (which was evidenced by photoshopping imperfections out of candid photos and emergency detagging of photos before a job interview).
It was during this same year that Snapchat for Android was launched in Google Play Store. This saw its user base grow to over 100,000 users.
Snapchat’s Growth Over Time
In June 2013, Snapchat released the “Banquo”- Snapchat version 5.0 for iOS. This update brought about several designs and speed enhancements, including double tapping to reply, swipe navigation, in-app profiles and an enhanced friend finder. In the same year, they introduced Snapkidz version which was intended for users aged 13 years and below. Snapkidz allows users to take photos and draw or doodle on them. However, these photos cannot be sent to other users as they can only be saved on your local device.
In 2014, Snapchat introduced geofilters and Our Story; a feature that allows several users to add one shared Snapchat Story. They also struck a deal with Square Cash, allowing the app users to send and receive cash from the app.
As of 2015, the app users were sending over 2 billion videos each day, which drastically rose to 10 billion by the end of the same year. It introduced Discover, a fun, and interactive section, for content from media partners such as Comedy Central, CNN, National Geographic and more.
In May 2016, the company raised $1.81 billion in an equity offering, attracting strong investor. In September 2016, the company rebranded from Snapchat Inc. to Snap Inc. They also introduced the company’s first hardware tool –Spectacles. Spectacle is a pair of smartglasses that contain an inbuilt camera that can record 10 second videos at a time.
In February 2017, Spectacles became available for users to purchase online. In the same year, Snapchat reached 160 million active daily users and grew to 166 million in May of the same year. As of 2017, the App was valued at $24 billion.