“Man it’s like sending snaps up here.” That’s what Jordan Crook, TechCrunch moderator said to describe tight-lipped Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel towards the end of their conversation at TCDisrupt Monday.
The truth is, Spiegel doesn’t need to say much. Snapchat so popular right now, especially among young people, that it’s dominating what people are calling the “ephemeral market,” he said. This refers to things that appear online that don’t last. “Certainly I think more companies in the future will be interested in this philosophy of letting things go.”
If you’ve been hiding under a rock, you might not know much about Snapchat. It’s a photo messaging app that lets users take photos or videos called “Snaps.” They range from up to 10 seconds to as little as 1 second, after which they are hidden from the recipient’s device and they are also deleted from Snapchat server.
So if companies may take a liking to the philosophy of Snapchat, what will their products look like? Better yet, what will Snapchat look like years from now? When pressed, Spiegel wouldn’t say, but he dropped a few hints, mentioning that the young company hired a sociologist to help them brainstorm exactly what to build.
He said it may be about connecting the digital and analog parts of our world. Spiegel said a lot of effort in the past among technology companies has been about recording a live (or analog) conversation for instance, then pushing it online to a digital form. He wouldn’t explain further, but said the future of Snapchat may be about exploring the connection between those things and how they affect each other.
He also largely avoided answering further questions about other future SnapChat products. Would they build some kind of Snapchat social media feed? Might they, for a price of course, increase the length of time that snaps can exist, or their size? Spiegel wouldn’t say. He did however, reveal that the company is interested in developing products for wearable computers that are appearing these days. He mentioned that smart watches might work well as a platform for Snapchat. He was less excited about Google Glass however. “I think a lot of people on our team felt Glass might be too invasive,” he said. “We don’t think it fits into the Snapchat experience and doesn’t make users feel comfortable.”
Speigel: Snapchat is Not Just Sexting
Spiegel was quick to rebuff the idea that Snapchat is just a tool for sexting. Many young people have found Snapchat to be an effective way to have the most personal of conversations. “Our message is that it’s just not a great way to send an inappropriate photo. The recipient can always just take a screen shot.” He also pointed out that people with a lot of money or time can hack into Snapchat.
It’s interesting to note that Spiegel doesn’t view Instagram or Facebook to be actual competitors. He says Snapchat is moving in a different direction than “traditional social media.” He wasn’t sure if he actually had an active Facebook account. “I think Mark (Zuckerberg) has done an incredible job building that company. They’re showing that they’re going to be around a long time. And that’s really great for the industry and for us.”
What about Instagram? The service now has 130 million users and is one of the hottest companies in social media right now. It’s not a competitor, according to Speigel. “Well it’s hard not to like something that makes you look pretty. I think that Snapchat is about saving what’s in the moment. Instagram is about saving what looks great.”