If you aren’t already convinced that every tech company with a pulse wants to dominate the instant messaging space, yet another app is making its debut: Bolt. For all intents and purposes, it’s another Snapchat clone, this time developed by Instagram (owned by Facebook). Facebook launched Slingshot back in June, which was received with lackluster reviews and saw many users drop off after the initial launch.
Instagram is following the launch model that initially made Facebook popular and only releasing Bolt in a handful of countries at a time. In the beginning, only users in New Zealand, Singapore, and South Africa will be able to sign up for Bolt. Additional countries will follow soon, but there’s no telling exactly when those of us in the States will be able to try it out. Instagram is quick to point out that Bolt is a standalone app, meaning you don’t need a Facebook or Instagram account to sign up.
- One tap takes a photo or records a video. As soon as you lift your finger, it sends.
- Photos and videos are always unedited so people can see the world as you do.
- Easily caption photos and videos.
- Go back and forth by replying to your friends with text, photos or videos.
- Swipe photos away and they’re gone.
- Organize your 20 Favorites in whatever order works for you.
- Sign up with your phone number, no email address needed.
The question I keep asking every time these new apps pop up is “Why?” Instagram has a Direct Message function within its own app already, allowing users to send photos privately to individuals or groups. Bolt is essentially the same thing. The only logical explanation is that it’s an attempt to rip off Snapchat, which Facebook failed to acquire, despite a massive $3 billion cash offer, last year. In the eight months since that offer was rejected, Facebook has now put out two different Snapchat clones. In addition to that, they’re making a hard push for users to download the ‘Messenger’ app, and in the coming month will remove the Messaging function from their iOS and Android apps altogether.
This push, along with other previous moves, clearly show how Facebook wants to dominate your mobile device. Including Instagram and Bolt, these are all the individual apps Facebook offers:
- Facebook Messenger
- Facebook Pages Manager
- Facebook Home
- WhatsApp Messenger
- Poke (no longer available)
- Camera (no longer available)
Three of those apps are the most popular in their category: Facebook is the most popular social network, Instagram is the most popular photo sharing app, and WhatsApp is the most popular instant messaging app. It seems that the micro-category of photo messages that disappear is the only one Facebook hasn’t been able to successfully build or acquire, yet.
Only time will tell if Bolt is a strong enough offering to take on Snapchat, but I’ll say this: very rarely do you see new competitors take away meaningful marketshare by ripping off an existing app, service, or ecosystem, despite the behemoth company behind it. Just ask Microsoft about Bing.