Yesterday Facebook announced a photo-sharing app called Slingshot. It competes with the likes of Snapchat, but unlike other apps you will only be able to see your friend’s photos and videos after you send something yourself. Facebook says Slingshot is not a Snapchat clone, but if you look at the interface the first thing you do when you open the app is see a camera screen just like Snapchat has. You see a big circular button to take a shot and you can add white text which is almost the exact same font as in Snapchat. And you can even do some art on there, the only difference being that you have different brush sizes.
Slingshot is a straight up clone and they admit to some degree that Snapchat was an influence. The biggest difference is the pay-to-play sharing mechanic where you can’t open somebody’s shot until you send them one back. So you can’t really have a conversation in that way, which is kinda strange but the mechanic is definitely interesting. However, at first glance this seems to be the most ridiculous thing that Facebook has ever done. If somebody sends you something and you wanna see it, but you don’t feel like sending something back then you can’t see what they just sent you. So you have to take a picture of the ground or something and just send it off, but then they need to take a picture of the ground in order to see what you just sent them.
One of the biggest problems here is people’s perception to it. The idea itself is interesting and many people would likely give it a chance if it didn’t look exactly like Snapchat. This could be used as an alternate news feed that you can’t unlock unless you post something of your own. That sounds like a much better idea that a messaging app that you can’t use until you send a response back. The mechanic is certainly interesting, but it’s not going to work with Slingshot simply because it feels so much like a messaging app even though it doesn’t want to be. Facebook tried to acquire Snapchat for $3 billion and it didn’t work out so if Slingshot fails they might try again with a bigger offer this time.
They have a lot of money in the bank and it’s obvious that they want to own the way people use the internet, the way they talk to their friends and the apps they use to do it. At some point Snapchat is going to need to monetize and Facebook will be there to take advantage of the situation.