Completely out of the blue, Instagram announced yesterday a brand new feature that will sound very familiar to most of you: Instagram Stories. If you’re thinking about Snapchat Stories, then you’re on the right track. Instagram Stories will allow users to share their varied images and videos of their daily lives and upload these as an Instagram Story that’s completely independent of your existing timeline, and viewable for 24 hours by all your followers. You can add text to your images and drawing tools will be available as well.
Above your feed you’ll see circular profile pictures of your friends who have uploaded stories, with a nice colorful ring around their profile to denote new media has been added to their story. You can’t post a comment or Like any of the stories, but you can message that user privately if you especially like one of their posts.
There’s no denying this is a blatant rip off but there is some argument for Instagram: It’s no secret Facebook has been bitter for being unable to add Snapchat to it’s conquering social networking empire after it rejected Facebook’s whopping $3-billion (Dh11 billion) bid a few years ago. Since then, Facebook has been trying hard to capture the youth that Snapchat so proudly commands, one small feature at a time.
Instagram Stories is Facebook’s first wave against Snapchat and though it’s an outright copy of one of Snapchat’s integral features, I feel it’s a great addition to an app that may be getting a little stagnant in a time where social networks need to keep evolving and growing into something new. People can and will argue that Facebook and Instagram aren’t innovating – a buzzword whose frequency Silicon Valley seriously needs to take down a few notches – but there’s always a lot of method in Mark Zuckerberg’s all-knowing madness. Facebook has tried to innovate with several apps adding to the Facebook experience and most of them have been lost to obscurity. Why not implement something that you know works in order to reach a target audience you so desperately want along with giving your 300 million daily active users something new to play with (and help them forget how annoying your new algorithm is)?
Who deserves the credit?
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom gives credit where its due by saying “They deserve all the credit.” He also added “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.” As far as CEO comments go, it could have been worse. We’re expected to see the roll out in the coming weeks and I for one am excited at this prospect.
What do you think? Is it fair for one social media platform to rip off features from another, just because they say they’ve got their own spin on it?