By THE BLUE AND GRAY PRESS STAFF
On Monday anyone that has the popular smartphone app Snapchat saw a short video from “teamsnapchat” unveiling the app’s new money sharing feature, aptly called Snapcash. According to the Wall Street Journal, the feature is the result of a collaboration with a startup company called Square that focuses on mobile payment.
The new feature is akin to other money-sharing services rising in popularity, such as the app Venmo or Google Cash. The development is one of many made by Snapchat to expand their services and gain a wider audience by offering more features in just one simple app. A few months ago, Snapchat unveiled a messaging system, and the app’s “story” feature has begun to surpass Instagram and Facebook as the most popular way to share photos on social media.
However, while these features might seem convenient, the larger problem with this expansion is the motivation behind the new offerings. The Wall Street Journal noted that the app, which is offered for free, is struggling to bring in revenue after venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins valued the app at approximately $10 billion and offered an investment of nearly $20 million. The app began selling advertisements last month, and the new Snapcash feature could open the door for Snapchat to “sell goods and services through the app,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
While it makes logical sense that Snapchat seek ventures to expand its services and bring in revenue, their approach is troubling. The features Snapchat is developing are not unique or innovative. As mentioned earlier, the Snapcash feature is modeled off Venmo and Snapchat’s messaging feature is no more useful than iMessage or any other text messaging service. As Snapchat seeks to grow, the company’s mimicry of other innovative apps will ultimately shut out those smaller, developing companies. This is deflating competition and will ultimately stymie innovation.
The development of smartphone applications resulted in a surge of creative technological innovation. If Snapchat continues to hijack the ideas that work, there will be little room for startup apps to grow.