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Snapchat must either grow up or risk disappearing

Matt Kapko | June 12, 2014
Snapchat had a rough May, and that's even before taking into account the massive competitive threats it faces from Apple and Facebook. The company has a lot of growing up to do. And it better do it fast.

While some are giving Spiegel a pass, especially those within the Silicon Valley echo chamber, others are chastising the 24-year-old for not being more forthright in his apology. Many executives have come back from much worse, but consider how differently things have played out recently for other men of privilege caught making discriminatory comments in private conversations.

In the ultimate twist of irony, perhaps this breach of Spiegel's privacy will embolden him to make Snapchat the most private and secure messaging platform of all. That wouldn't necessarily insulate him from this controversy, but it would give him a cause and a personal story to bring it all full circle. America loves a comeback and this could be his.

Vultures Circle Overhead

As if Snapchat didn't have enough problems to deal with, all of which it brought on itself; the company is quickly approaching its most competitive threat yet. And it's coming from two of the most powerful companies in the world — Apple and Facebook. The latter hasn't made any formal announcements, but according to the Financial Times, it is developing a video-messaging app known internally as "Slingshot" to rival Snapchat.

Rumors and unannounced products are one worry for Snapchat, but the threat from Apple is real and coming this fall. During the company's annual developer's conference, Apple announced plans to incorporate Snapchat's core feature directly into its messages app. When iOS 8 is released, users will be able to send video, photo or audio messages that self-destruct.

At that point, what will keep iOS users from consolidating all of their ephemeral messaging behavior within Apple's most popular app? It all comes down to trust, user experience and privacy.

If Snapchat stands any chance of deflecting this colossal threat from Apple (and possibly Facebook), it has to completely change the script and grow up fast. Unseemly emails and privacy concerns are problems that Snapchat can't afford to have at a time when it must gear up for battle with the heavyweights to its north.

How many more heat waves can Snapchat sustain? By the time winter arrives, we should know the answer. If it's still licking its wounds then, Spiegel and company may deeply regret their decision to not sell to Facebook, Google and others that were circling around with multi-billion dollar offers late last year.

 

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