Snapchat and Instagram, look out. Apple has you in its sights. The company is working on a video-sharing app with features similar to those found in Snapchat and Instagram, Bloomberg reported last week.
The app, possibly slated for release in 2017, will allow users of Apple devices to record a video, apply filters and draw on it, then share it with others on a variety of social networks.
Ease of use and quickness are paramount in the software’s design. Users can perform most of its functions with one hand — shooting, editing and uploading videos in less than a minute, noted Bloomberg. One version of the app allows users to shoot square video footage, as Instagram does.
Although current plans reportedly call for a standalone app, Apple may decide to bundle the functions with a future version of its camera app.
Apple has hired Joe Weil, who codeveloped the KnowMe video-blogging app, to lead the team on the project, which is being forged in the same department that created Apple’s iMovie and Final Cut Pro video-editing apps, according to the Bloomberg report.
If Apple is developing a Snapchat-like app, it could be a sign the company is concerned about future growth in iPhone sales.
“In a time when iPhone revenues are growing at a more earthly rate, Apple is looking for incremental revenue elsewhere,” said Andreas Scherer, managing partner at Salto Partners.
Because social media is hot right now, it may seem sensible to embed those capabilities in new or existing applications and services, but such thinking ignores the current market reality, he suggested.
“Between SnapChat and Instagram, the young generation has made up its mind where to chat, exchange personal pictures or videos, and tell life stories as they occur,” Scherer said.
“For the same reason that Google+ had a tough time breaking into Facebook’s turf, it will be very difficult for Apple to compete with the two incumbents,” he maintained.
It’s questionable whether Apple actually is gunning for Snapchat and Instagram.
“I think the stories are mostly a little overblown in calling this a Snapchat competitor,” said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research.
Apple only wants to give people more ways to edit videos and share them over other social networks — the Bloomberg report suggests no more than that, he maintained.
“Apple doesn’t seem to be trying to compete with Facebook or Snapchat directly here,” Dawson said.
Apple just wants “to capture more of the time users spend on Apple devices in its own apps rather than third-party apps, and this is one way to do this,” he explained. “It’s the same strategy that’s seen Apple launch News and Music in recent years too.
If Apple were to take on Snapchat and Instagram head to head, CEO Tim Cook might find himself on the losing side.
“Tim Cook doesn’t have a history of doing social media right, and it is incredibly difficult to do right, so I think the odds are against Apple with this effort,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.
“Like Microsoft found with search, once people are happy with another platform it is really hard to get them to switch, even if you are the OS owner,” he explained.
Apple painfully discovered the pitfalls of social media when it tried to launch a music-focused social network called “Ping” in 2010 — the company pulled the plug on it in 2012.
Apple’s cautious approach with this app likely can be attributed to “the difficulty they’ve had in the past with these kinds of platforms,” said John Carroll, a mass communications professor at Boston University.
“They’re taking extra care in developing this,” he said, “to try and ensure that they have the most effective application possible.”