I wanted to share my take on the current Instagram update battle. There is a lot of press buzzing around both sides of the debate.

If you’re not across it I suggest you open (or first download) Snapchat and check out its interface and value proposition. It has a parallel sliding interface and is a self-destructing video messaging service whilst allowing users to post stories which last a day. Now go grab Instagram, if you recall they used to present a value proposition of a shared photo/video feed.

The Instagram CEO was quite open about the copy when quizzed by tech journalists, he said they emulated it as it was working. This is what sent everyone into a craze, “they copied them” people yelled.

I agree that they did, it’s obvious in the design. But this is an important part of technological advancement and competition. We call this an incremental gain, one company takes something done before and improves it or brings it to a new audience. Instagram did both of these things and should be applauded for it. Think about Google, they just copied Yahoo’s concept but invented a new search algorithm and spruced up the home page – a direct copy for most folks. Or how about Facebook, they just directly copied MySpace and simplified the interface with the right audience.

This whole situation is why founder HAVE to think about unfair advantages. What’s stopping someone doing this to you? You need some special sauce that can’t be easily copied, bought or learned.

Even though Snapchat saw and is currently seeing some amazing user base growth you have to view the scale of its competitor now. Instagram has 500 million monthly active users versus Snapchats 100 million. So that’s a 1 to 5 ratio which is pretty massive. These new users will likely use both platforms in tandem (and not Snapchat alone) and it now makes a ton of sense to simply their home screen by removing one app.

You can be the judge of which app they will remove.




Why startups fail

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