Facebook is taking Snapchat very seriously after its failed attempt to purchase the video- and picture-messaging app for $3 billion last year. Mark Zuckerberg is personally supervising an internal effort to build a competing "ephemeral messaging" app, according to a new report from the Financial Times. Details are slim on the video-messaging app, but, like Snapchat, it'd take just a few clicks to share videos and pictures that would disappear after one view. If the rumors are accurate, it's being called "Slingshot" internally and it could be released as early as this month.
Of course, Slingshot would not be the first time that Facebook has tried to copy Snapchat's formula. In 2012 it failed spectacularly with Poke, a similar video-sharing app. Mark Zuckerberg has since called that app "a joke," and it's been widely reported that it was developed in just 12 hours. Earlier this month, Facebook discontinued the app. Slingshot, according to the report, represents a much more concerted effort on Facebook's part. It's said that it has been in development for months, and Zuckerberg's personal involvement, if true, speaks to how important Snapchat is to Facebook.
Can Slingshot succeed where Poke failed?
In all likelihood, Slingshot will be a simple, standalone mobile app separate from the main Facebook app. The company promised a number of high-quality, easy-to-use mobile apps in 2014, so a new Snapchat competitor would make sense. Creative Labs, the firm's group in charge of such efforts, is likely heading any development on Slingshot, and the group has a solid track record with the attractive Paper app already to its name.
For Facebook, the appeal in Snapchat is obvious: the app has become incredibly popular with teenagers on mobile, a demographic that the company has seen sliding engagement with. Facebook was late to embrace mobile, and if it is seeking to release a new Snapchat competitor this year, it will face an uphill battle to unseat the leader. Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment.