If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then Instagram, the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook, is absolutely fawning over rival Snapchat, whose ephemeral photo and video sharing service has grown into a rival for both companies. But the talk of the tech world today is just how blatant that imitation — excuse me, flattery — is in the introduction of Instagram's new "stories" feature, which bears an identical name to Snapchat Stories.
While Instagram is a hub for preserving the polished moments of life — say, a perfectly composed meal ready to eat — Snapchat has been a place for sharing the messier, funnier ones — the mess you made of that meal, for example. "Instagram has always been a place to share the moments you want to remember," the company writes in a blog post announcing Instagram Stories. "Now you can share your highlights and everything in between, too." In other words, the stuff you'll probably want to forget.
Like Snapchat stories, Instagram stories stay on your phone for 24-hours and their content maxes out at 10 seconds of photos and videos. Both services allow you to add ornamental filters and drawings. Both show you who has seen your story. Both allow users to reply to your story individually, in Instagram's case through the app's direct messages.
One key difference, however, is who sees your stories. Whereas on Snapchat users build networks with whom they share their stories, on Instagram, all your followers will see your stories unless you de-select them from doing so. If your Instagram profile is public, anyone can see your story, a major difference that may dissuade public users from sharing as much or as personally in stories. Snapchat lets you know who may have taken a screen shot of your story while Instagram doesn't (yet).
Unlike Instagram, which Facebook purchased in 2012 for $1 billion, Snapchat turned down a Facebook offer of $3 billion in 2013, as the New York Times recalls. The paper also invokes a study from investment banking firm Jefferies that found "Snapchat consists of a more active user base, which creates more content than the average Instagram user." That posed a threat to Instagram, Jefferies determined: "Given its younger demographic, we think Instagram looks the most at-risk from the rise of Snapchat, especially on a longer-term basis."
When asked about the resemblance to Snapchat Stories, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom told TechCrunch that "They deserve all the credit” "This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it."