Instagram rolled out an update last week that is perhaps the most blatant rip-off of someone else’s work since Robin Thicke’s "Blurred Lines." Its new stories mode is nearly identical to Snapchat’s stories.
The thing is, this is legal and could potentially help Instagram leverage its larger user base to slow Snapchat’s momentum. Fast Company has a helpful explainer on the legal nitty-gritty. Basically, it’s okay to completely rip off another company’s idea as long as you don’t also copy the entire interface or source code.
Just how similar are stories on Snapchat and Instagram? Here’s a list of examples:
- Both are called "Stories"
- Both allow clips up to 10 seconds in length
- Both make stories temporary by removing uploads after 24 hours
- Both allow you to select and watch your friends’ stories sequentially
- Both allow you to reply to stories with direct messages
- Both allow you to add custom text atop your images and video
- Both include filters
- Both let you draw with a built-in marker
- Both include the option to save the media directly to your camera roll
- Both display who views your story
There are a few differences, however:
- Instagram allows you to "rewind" stories to play back things you may have missed
- Instagram has more marker options when it comes to doodling
- Instagram lets you post sections of your story as an Instagram post
- Instagram doesn’t show you who screenshots your story, but Snapchat does
- Geofilters and facial-mapping are still limited to Snapchat
Personally, I think the Instagram interface and design is easier to understand and all-around looks better. Then again, I’ve never loved the look of myself puking rainbows.
Of course, this is just the beginning of this battle. Like some CEO once said, "Competition breeds innovation." Or was it replication?