philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology



Even now, there are no likes, no retweets, no comments. You open the app, and you're looking through a lens. Evan Spiegel, the company’s founder and CEO, doubled down on this commitment to the camera when he filed for Snap's IPO last year, plainly saying, “Snap Inc. is a camera company.”

Despite Spiegel's succinct summation, Snapchat's evolution tells a different story. As the app became more popular, its users started commanding huge followings on the app. DJ Khalad showed up, along with the Kardashians. It became the place to see to your real friends, but also your internet friends, your favorite celebrities, and your ex-girlfriend's cousin's dog.

Call it the great homogenization of social media: As Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat started competing for users and features, it became harder to tell them apart.

If you had to reduce that identity crisis to a single thing, it would be the constant comparison to Instagram.

Instead, focus on being the internet's best augmented reality camera. Pour resources into improving the camera technology that made it great in the first place. Then someday, in the future, people will look back at selfies with the puppy filter and instead of calling it "AR photography," they'll call it a Snap.

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