On Nov. 15 reports emerged that Snap, the parent of Snapchat, had filed for an initial public offering that could value the company at as much as $25 billion. Days later, Instagram unveiled a new feature for disappearing photos and videos that puts it squarely in competition with Snapchat.
So goes the escalating battle between the two apps as they each seek to own the time and attention of internet-connected, mobile-phone-obsessed young people. Six-year-old Instagram, which sold to Facebook for $1 billion in 2012, has seen an astounding few years of growth, reporting in June that it has 500 million monthly users and 300 million daily users. Snapchat, which was released in 2011, meanwhile has captured buzz -- and 150 million daily users -- through its focus on ephemerality.
But both companies appear acutely aware of the competition. In July, Snapchat introduced a new feature for saving and reposting old photos, something that's always been easy on Instagram. One month later, Instagram responded with its take on Snapchat's Stories format. Below, The Hollywood Reporter takes a look at how the apps have mimicked each other as the social media arms race heats up.
In July, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, 26, took a page out of the playbook of more permanent photo-sharing apps like Instagram and unveiled Memories, which allows users to save and share old snaps.
Kevin Systrom, 32, launched Instagram in 2010 as a place to share photos. Now, after selling to Facebook for $1 billion in 2012, daily active users have hit 300 million.
Snapchat took its first step away from its core ephemeral messages with the 2013 launch of Stories, a string of semi-public photos and videos.
Instagram released its version of Stories in August, and after two months the feature hit 100 million daily users (two-thirds the size of Snapchat).
Snapchat's core product at launch in 2011 was an app for sending photos, and later videos, that disappear after being viewed. This feature has propelled the app to 150 million daily active users.
A late-November update took Instagram's emulation of Snapchat, which days before filed to go public, further with disappearing messages for Direct, similar to Snapchat's original feature.
Snapchat has experimented with live one-on-one video chats and with Stories for events that are happening live around the world, but the app has yet to respond to the live trend with a product of its own.
In that same November update, Instagram announced a move into live video, something Twitter and parent Facebook also are pursuing intensely, with broadcasts that disappear after they end.
A version of this story first appeared in the Dec. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.