Monthly Archives: July 2021
Spotify’s recently launched live audio app and Clubhouse rival, Spotify Greenroom, has a long road ahead of it if it wants to take on top social audio platforms like Clubhouse, Airtime, Spoon and others, not to mention those from top social networks like Twitter and Facebook. To date, the new Greenroom app has only been downloaded a total of 141,000 times on iOS, according to data from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower. This includes downloads from its earlier iteration Locker Room — an app Spotify acquired to make its move into live audio.
On Android, Google Play data indicates the app has been installed over 100,000 times, but Sensor Tower cannot yet confirm this figure.
For comparison, Clubhouse today has 30.2 million total installs, 18.7 million of which are on iOS, Sensor Tower says.
Other top audio apps include Airtime, with 11.4 million iOS installs, out of a total of 14.3 million (including Android); and Spoon, with 7.6 million iOS installs, out of a total of 27.3 million.
International apps like UAE’s Yalla and China’s Lizhi are massive, as well, with the former sporting 48.1 total installs, 3.8 million of which are on iOS. The latter has 29.5 million+ total installs, but only a handful on iOS.
There are other newcomers that have managed to stake smaller claims in the social audio space, too, including Fishbowl (759,000 total installs), Cappuccino (497,000 installs), Riff (339,000 installs) and Sonar (154,000 installs).
Spotify Greenroom’s launch last month, meanwhile, seems to have attracted only a small fraction of Spotify’s larger user base, which has now grown to 365 million monthly active users.
The majority of Greenroom’s installs — around 106,000 — took place after Greenroom’s official launch on July 16, 2021 through July 25, 2021, Sensor Tower says. Counting only its Greenroom installs, the app is ranked at No. 12 among social audio apps. It follows Tin Can, which gained 127,000 installs since launching in early March.
Because Greenroom took over Locker Room’s install base, some portion of Greenroom’s total iOS installs (141,000) included downloads that occurred when the app was still Locker Room. But that number is fairly small. Sensor Tower estimates Locker Room saw only around 35,000 total iOS installs to date. That includes the time frame of October 26, 2020 — the month when the sports chat app launched to the public — up until the day before Greenroom’s debut (July 15, 2021).
We should also point out that downloads are not the same thing as registered users and are far short of active users. Many people download a new app to try it, but then abandon it shortly after downloading it or never remember to open it at all.
That means the number of people actively using Greenroom at this time is likely much smaller than these figures indicate.
Spotify declined to comment on third-party estimates.
While Sensor Tower looked at competition across social audio apps on the app stores, Spotify’s competition in the live audio market won’t be limited to standalone apps, of course.
Other large tech platforms have more recently integrated social audio into their apps, too, including Facebook (Live Audio Rooms), Twitter (Spaces), Discord (Stage Channels) and trading app Public. A comparison with Greenroom here is not possible, as these companies would have to disclose how many of their active users are engaging with live audio, and they have not yet done so.
Despite what may be a slower uptake, Greenroom shouldn’t be counted out yet. The app is brand-new and has time to catch up if all goes well. (And if the market for live audio, in general, continues to grow — even though the height of COVID lockdowns, which prompted all this live audio socializing in the first place, seems to have passed.)
Spotify’s success or failure with live audio will be particularly interesting to watch given the potential for the company to cross-promote live audio shows, events and artist-produced content through its flagship streaming music application. What sort of programming Greenroom may later include is still unknown, however.
Following Spotify’s acquisition of Locker Room maker Betty Labs, the company said it would roll out programmed content related to music, culture and entertainment, in addition to sports. It also launched a Creator Fund to help fuel the app with new content.
But so far, Spotify hasn’t given its users a huge incentive to visit Greenroom.
The company, during its Q2 2021 earnings, explained why. It said it first needed to get Greenroom stabilized for a “Spotify-sized audience,” which is why it only soft-launched the app in June. Going forward, Spotify says there will be “more tie-ins” with the main Spotify app, but didn’t offer any specifics.
“Obviously we’ll leverage our existing distribution on Spotify,” noted Spotify CEO Daniel Ek. “But this feels like a great way to learn, experiment and iterate much faster than if we had to wait for a full-on integration into the main app,” he added.
Startups and SMBs are usually the first to adopt many SaaS products. But as these customers grow in size and complexity — and as you rope in larger organizations — scaling your infrastructure for the enterprise becomes critical for success.
Below are four tips on how to advance your company’s infrastructure to support and grow with your largest customers.
Address your customers’ security and reliability needs
If you’re building SaaS, odds are you’re holding very important customer data. Regardless of what you build, that makes you a threat vector for attacks on your customers. While security is important for all customers, the stakes certainly get higher the larger they grow.
Given the stakes, it’s paramount to build infrastructure, products and processes that address your customers’ growing security and reliability needs. That includes the ethical and moral obligation you have to make sure your systems and practices meet and exceed any claim you make about security and reliability to your customers.
Here are security and reliability requirements large customers typically ask for:
Formal SLAs around uptime: If you’re building SaaS, customers expect it to be available all the time. Large customers using your software for mission-critical applications will expect to see formal SLAs in contracts committing to 99.9% uptime or higher. As you build infrastructure and product layers, you need to be confident in your uptime and be able to measure uptime on a per customer basis so you know if you’re meeting your contractual obligations.
While it’s hard to prioritize asks from your largest customers, you’ll find that their collective feedback will pull your product roadmap in a specific direction.
Real-time status of your platform: Most larger customers will expect to see your platform’s historical uptime and have real-time visibility into events and incidents as they happen. As you mature and specialize, creating this visibility for customers also drives more collaboration between your customer operations and infrastructure teams. This collaboration is valuable to invest in, as it provides insights into how customers are experiencing a particular degradation in your service and allows for you to communicate back what you found so far and what your ETA is.
Backups: As your customers grow, be prepared for expectations around backups — not just in terms of how long it takes to recover the whole application, but also around backup periodicity, location of your backups and data retention (e.g., are you holding on to the data too long?). If you’re building your backup strategy, thinking about future flexibility around backup management will help you stay ahead of these asks.
The average conversion rate of Facebook ads is 9.21. If your conversion rate is lower than 10%, it’s time to start focusing on improving it with these 5 tips.
Read more at PPCHero.com
- Keyword research is at the heart of understanding where your business stands and what your end-users expect
- Surveying or monitoring your analytics is a great way of listening to your customers or readers for effective content ideas
- Seasonality is a great way to find fresh content ideas by finding angles where your primary topic overlaps with seasonal interests
- Collaborate and meet real people – use every opportunity (events, meetups, live sessions) to talk to people and listen to what they’d be interested in consuming
- Use “question research” to understand the existing information gaps in the market
- Re-package your old, better-performing content into new (updated) assets
If you feel like everything has already been written and you have no idea what else you can write about, here are six content ideas for you that help you come up with valuable and engaging content this year:
1. Use new keyword research tools
Keyword research is not just for SEO! They can give you in-depth insight into your audience’s interests, questions, and struggles. Research and address them in your content.
The key is to try a new tool from time to time. Why? Each tool uses a different data source or a different output or a different way to organize those keywords. Any of these will be enough to give you lots of content ideas.
Luckily, we have quite a few tools to choose from.
This tool will give you pretty much everything you need to create a good topic list. Or at least point you in the right direction. Look at the left-hand channel to find popular concepts around your main topic and build your content around those!
Source: Screenshot by the author
Kparser offers a premium version for $ 69 a month but I’ve always been using its free version which is great!
KeywordTool.io allows access to lots of data sources, including Google, Youtube, Amazon, Instagram, and Twitter.
(Content ideas sourced from Amazon)
Source: Screenshot made by the author
The tool will give you lots of ideas for free but to see each keyword analysis, you need to upgrade to one of the listed plans.
Answer the Public
This one you may not have heard of. It features a man called ‘The Seeker’, who impatiently awaits your questions. You put in keywords or phrases, he suggests some interesting topics.
Apart from being a great keyword research tool, this one is also great for question research (see my #5 tip on the list!) Using different ways to group and organize your keyword lists will likely uncover more ideas. These grouping techniques include keyword clustering and semantic research.
Source: Screenshot by the author
Answer the Public is freemium and comes at $ 79/month minimum if you pay for a year, but frankly I’ve never had to upgrade as the free version is simply awesome!
2. Turn to your actual customers for ideas
You know who you really need to listen to. Correct, your current and future customers. You want your content to make a difference for your bottom line, not just bring your word out there, no matter if anyone is there listening or not.
You don’t just want to be heard, you want to be heard by your target audience.
You can even gamify that process by building up your surveys with visualization tools, here are some extra tips on that.
You can offer a good mix of generic questions (like, ask about their lifestyle) which would help you build up your customers’ personas and target them better. Then come your brand-specific questions:
- “What questions did you have when browsing our services?”
- “Were they sufficiently covered on the site?”
The latter will help you improve your site performance too.
The cool thing is that you will also be able to use your survey results in site content and articles, making your site intent-rich, trustworthy, and linkable.
It’s also a wise idea to set up a well-defined routine to help you record your customers’ questions as they come. This will help you in both content planning and social media goals.
Slack is a nice tool to help your in-team communication and idea-sharing. Simply set up a separate Slack channel and encourage your customer and support team to send your customers’ questions there as soon as they come across any.
Using your web analytics is another way to listen to your customers and readers. Finteza is a great solution to better understand which content and on-page elements your site users respond to best. It supports a variety of events including mouse-overs, clicks, and downloads allowing you to measure which content does a better job engaging your readers:
3. Take seasonal trends into account
There are holidays and seasonal trends to include in your content editorial plans. When you catch a trend, there’s always a huge boost of interactions, new followers, and clicks.
Source: Screenshot by the author
The great thing about seasonal trends is that you can plan your editorial calendar months in advance because they are easy to predict and repeat yearly. This means you’ll be able to re-use your calendar as a reference point to structure your seasonal content strategy and improvise for maximum success.
Simply sit down and plan your content assets for upcoming big holidays, seasonal events like spring cleaning season, summer holidays, Amazon Prime Day, and other noteworthy days that are relevant to your target customers.
Source: Screenshot by the author
You can use Google Spreadsheets to create your content roadmap. To better focus on ideation and get more inspired, I usually start with planning my seasonal content using a printable calendar which you can easily find using these steps.
There are handy calendar apps that can even integrate into WordPress to keep track of those holidays you may want to include in your social media editorial plan.
You can schedule social media updates as far as one year ahead to make sure there’s always something going on your brand channels no matter how busy you get.
4. Get out into the world
We have a tendency to look for our inspiration online because we are targeting an internet-based audience, which is totally understandable: you can discover so many wonderful topics on the web. It just isn’t the only place we can look and purely searching online actually limits our scope, and so our returns.
The most popular piece of content is one that comes from the real world. People love personal stories!
Go out into the real world. Seek out events in your industry, or things that are tangentially related. Discover how everyday experiences connect to your niche and use your social media channels as a platform to explain and share with others.
Get out of cyberspace and into meet-space!
A good way is to engage with your local community (now in a safe and socially distanced way!)
This serves as a great way to understand the pulse of your audience/target customers, their intent, and personal experiences that impact their decisions. Plus, you also earn a chance to introduce new people to your brand.
You can also connect with other local brands, businesses, and business owners and potentially work out some topic ideas that way.
5. Find out what people are asking online
Question research offers a few important marketing opportunities:
- Questions give you lots of insight into what your target audience is struggling with and how to best help them
- Questions are your best content ideation source
- Covering niche questions online opens up more organic search visibility opportunities including getting featured and ranking in “People Also Ask” results
- Asking a question on social media is one of the most important ways to increase your social media engagement because whenever they see a question mark, people have that natural reflex to stop and find an answer
So ask questions on social media often and engage with answers you receive.
If you are open to trying tools to bolster this exercise, Text Optimizer is a smart option. All you Just type your keyword into its “Topic Ideas” section and it will generate a list of topic ideas for you:
Source: Screenshot by the author
Every question is rated based on how many people are searching for it and how many sites are covering it – giving you a clear analysis of demand vs competition which informs your decision making.
The tool is paid and I am not aware of any alternatives. But the good thing is, question research will be mostly free. You will get some content ideas without the need to pay or register an account.
Quick tip: If you install their Google Chrome extension, most of that analysis will come for free as long as you use Google Chrome.
Source: Screenshot by the author
6. Learn the art of content re-packaging
Right off the bat, re-packaging content is going to be the best weapon in your arsenal. It takes what you already have and makes it stretch, getting more out of every piece you write. A lot of those prolific writers are using this tactic, albeit at its extreme. That is how they manage to get so much out without others writing for them.
So what does re-packaging content entail? It is creating new content directly from the old. Some ways to do that are:
- Collecting articles into an ebook to give away on your site (As a bonus, this would also make a great lead magnet!)
- Creating a webinar with the information you have written
- Turning your content series into a (mini) email course
- Creating newsletters
- Recording a podcast with the old post content
- Shooting a video with the old post content
- Converting info from posts into infographics
- Making a Slideshare presentation with condensed slides
- Writing new posts based on small details mentioned in old posts that have been expanded
These are only a few examples, but you get a general idea. A piece of content should never remain on its own without some form of recycled item coming out of it.
Looking at that list of ideas for re-packaging old content, did any of them stand out as forms of media you have never tried before? It may be time to start expanding what you create and produce something brand new.
This will attract a new kind of audience, one that is drawn to the media in question. Do you usually write blog posts? Start making infographics or videos. Never done a Slideshare slideshow? Consider it now, and see if it gets any bites.
You will be able to recycle your content better this way, and it will keep you from being burnt out. That will inevitably have an impact on the speed and quality of your content creation.
Content ideation isn’t easy and moreover, it is a continuous struggle. Let’s hope these ideas will get you out of that writer’s block!
Ann Smarty is the Founder of Viral Content Bee, Brand and Community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. She can be found on Twitter @seosmarty.
The post Six content ideas to supercharge your marketing in 2021 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
PayPal’s plan to morph itself into a “superapp” has been given a go for launch.
According to PayPal CEO Dan Schulman, speaking to investors during this week’s second-quarter earnings call, the initial version of PayPal’s new consumer digital wallet app is now “code complete” and the company is preparing to slowly ramp up. Over the next several months, PayPal expects to be fully ramped up in the U.S., with new payment services, financial services, commerce and shopping tools arriving every quarter.
The company has spoken for some time about its “superapp” ambitions — a shift in product direction that would make PayPal a U.S.-based version of something like China’s WeChat or Alipay or India’s Paytm. Like those apps, PayPal aims to offer a host of consumer services under one roof, beyond just mobile payments.
In previous quarters, PayPal said these new features may include things like enhanced direct deposit, check cashing, budgeting tools, bill pay, crypto support, subscription management, and buy now, pay later functionality. It also said it would integrate commerce, thanks to the mobile shopping tools acquired by way of its $ 4 billion Honey acquisition in 2019.
So far, PayPal has continued to run Honey as a standalone application, website and browser extension, but the superapp could incorporate more of its deal-finding functions, price-tracking features and other benefits.
On Wednesday’s earnings call, Schulman revealed the superapp would have a few other features as well, including high-yield savings, early access to direct deposit funds and messaging functionality outside of peer-to-peer payments — meaning you could chat with family and friends directly through the app’s user interface.
PayPal hadn’t announced its plans to include a messaging component until now, but the feature makes sense in terms of how people often combine chat and peer-to-peer payments today. For example, someone may want to make a personal request for the funds instead of just sending an automated request through an app. Or, after receiving payment, a user may want to respond with a “thank you,” or other acknowledgment. Currently, these conversations take place outside of the payment app itself on platforms like iMessage. Now, that could change.
“We think that’s going to drive a lot of engagement on the platform,” said Schulman. “You don’t have to leave the platform to message back and forth.”
With the increased user engagement, the company expects to see a bump in average revenue per active account.
Schulman also hinted at “additional crypto capabilities,” which were not detailed. However, PayPal earlier this month increased the crypto purchase limit from $ 20,000 to $ 100,000 for eligible PayPal customers in the U.S., with no annual purchase limit. The company also this year made it possible for consumers to check out at millions of online businesses using their cryptocurrencies, by first converting the crypto to cash then settling with the merchant in U.S. dollars.
Though the app’s code is now complete, Schulman said the plan is to continue to iterate on the product experience, noting that the initial version will not be “the be-all and end-all.” Instead, the app will see steady releases and new functionality on a quarterly basis.
However, he did say that early on, the new features would include the high-yield savings, improved bill pay with a better user experience, and more billers and aggregators, as well as early access to direct deposit, budgeting tools and the new two-way messaging feature.
To integrate all the new features into the superapp, PayPal will undergo a major overhaul of its user interface.
“Obviously, the [user experience] is being redesigned,” Schulman noted. “We’ve got rewards and shopping. We’ve got a whole giving hub around crowdsourcing, giving to charities. And then, obviously, buy now, pay later will be fully integrated into it. … The last time I counted, it was like 25 new capabilities that we’re going to put into the superapp.”
The digital wallet app will also be personalized to the end user, so no two apps are the same. This will be done using both artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to “enhance each customer’s experiences and opportunities,” said Schulman.
PayPal delivered an earnings beat in the second quarter with $ 6.24 billion in revenue, versus the $ 6.27 billion Wall Street expected, and earnings per share of $ 1.15, versus the $ 1.12 expected. Total payment volume from merchant customers also jumped 40% to $ 311 billion, while analysts had projected $ 295.2 billion. But the company’s stock slipped due to a lowered outlook for Q3, impacted by eBay’s transition to its own managed payments service.
In addition, PayPal gained 11.4 million net new active accounts in the quarter, to reach 403 million total active accounts.
After announcing that threads were on the way earlier this year and teasing the feature on Twitter, Discord is now introducing the long-requested way to make conversations in bustling servers more comprehensible.
Starting today, any server with “community” features enabled will be able to transform messages into threaded conversations across mobile and desktop. Threads are designated by their own subject name, making it easy to compartmentalize an off-topic idea into its own mini-conversation.
Channel members can create a thread by selecting a new hashtag symbol that now appears in the contextual menu when hovering over messages or pressing the plus sign in the chat bar and choosing “create thread.” The feature will be enabled in all servers automatically by August 17.
“[W]e wanted to help communities stay engaged while avoiding having to shut down conversation to maintain organization,” the company wrote in a blog post announcing the feature, noting that hopping into a busy new channel can “feel like walking into the middle of three different movies.” Discord introduced replies last year to help the flow of conversations; threads is an expansion of that same idea.
From the flow of a channel, Discord’s new threads open up into a split-view pane instead of taking over the full screen, serving their function as side conversations naturally. Threaded topics will also show up in the list of channels and will open to the full screen if selected from the channel list.
Threads will auto-archive after 24 hours of inactivity — a nice way to keep channels from being clogged up with off-topic or time-sensitive chats. Boosted servers can keep a thread around for a week instead of a single day, giving a channel’s members more time to hop into relevant side conversations.
Servers that are boosted through Discord’s premium features will also be able to create private threads that don’t show up in the channel list. Private threads only appear to users who are manually added to them or mentioned by name within a thread.
Discord designed private threads so that users could hold group conversations without adding each person in the conversation as a friend, a feature that may be a boon to moderators looking to have one-on-one or small group chats more easily.
Moderators will also be able to designate who can create threads within a channel. Channel members can be given permissions to use private threads, manage threads or just be allowed to use public threads (“send messages” must be toggled on to allow them to create new threads). Threads will work the same way regular channels do for moderation bots.
Twitter’s recent acquisition spree continues today as the company announces it has acqui-hired the team from news aggregator and summary app Brief. The startup from former Google engineers launched last year to offer a subscription-based news summary app that aimed to tackle many of the problems with today’s news cycle, including information overload, burnout, media bias and algorithms that promoted engagement over news accuracy.
Twitter declined to share deal terms.
Before starting Brief, co-founder and CEO Nick Hobbs was a Google product manager who had worked on AR, Google Assistant, Google’s mobile app, and self-driving cars, among other things. Co-founder and CTO Andrea Huey, meanwhile, was a Google senior software engineer, who worked on the Google iOS app and had a prior stint at Microsoft.
While Brief’s ambitious project to fix news consumption showed a lot of promise, its growth may have been hampered by the subscription model it had adopted. The app required a $ 4.99 per month commitment, despite not having the brand-name draw of a more traditional news outlet. For comparison, The New York Times’ basic digital subscription is currently just $ 4 per week for the first year of service, thanks to a promotion.
Twitter says the startup’s team, which also includes two other Brief employees, will join Twitter’s Experience.org group where they’ll work on areas that support the public conversation on Twitter, including Twitter Spaces and Explore.
While Twitter wouldn’t get into specifics as to what those tasks may involve, the company did tell TechCrunch it hopes to leverage the founders’ expertise with Brief to build out and accelerate projects in both those areas.
Explore, of course, is Twitter’s “news” section, where top stories across categories are aggregated alongside trending topics. But what it currently lacks is a comprehensive approach to distilling the news down to the basic facts and presenting balance, as Brief’s app had offered. Instead, Twitter’s news items include a headline and a short description of the story, followed by notable tweets. There’s certainly room for improvement there.
It’s also possible to imagine some sort of news-focused product built into Twitter’s own subscription service, Twitter Blue — but that’s just speculation at this point.
Twitter says it proactively reached out to Brief with its offer. As part of its current M&A strategy, the company is on the hunt for acquiring talent that will complement its existing teams and help to accelerate its product developments.
Over the past year, Twitter has made similar acqui-hires, including those for distraction-free reading service Scroll, social podcasting app Breaker, social screen-sharing app Squad, and API integration platform Reshuffle. It also bought products, like newsletter platform Revue, which it directly integrated. The company even held acquisition talks with Clubhouse and India’s ShareChat, which would have been much larger M&A deals.
“We’re really glad we ended up at Twitter,” Hobbs told TechCrunch.
“Andrea and I founded Brief to build news that fostered a healthy discourse, and Twitter’s genuine commitment to improve the public conversation is deeply inspiring,” he said. “While we can’t discuss specifics on future plans, we’re confident our experience at Brief will help accelerate the many exciting things happening at Twitter today,” he added.
Hobbs said the team remains optimistic about the future of paid journalism, too, as Brief demonstrated that some customers would pay for a new and improved news experience.
“Brief pioneered a fresh vision for journalism, focused on getting you just the news you need rather than as much as you could withstand,” remarked Ilya Kirnos, founding partner and CTO at SignalFire, who backed Brief at the seed stage. “That respect for its readers made SignalFire proud to support founders Nick Hobbs and Andrea Huey, who are now bringing that philosophy to the top source of breaking news — Twitter.”
To date, Brief had raised a million in seed funding from SignalFire and handful of angel investors, including Sequoia Scouts like David Lieb, Maia Bittner and Matt Macinnis.
As a result of today’s deal, Brief will wind down its subscription app on July 31. The company says it will alert its current user base today via a notification about its forthcoming shutdown but the app will remain on the App Store offering new features that allow users to explore its archives.
As phones and other consumer devices have gained feature after feature, they have also declined in how easily they can be repaired, with Apple at the head of this ignoble pack. The FTC has taken note, admitting that the agency has been lax on this front but that going forward it will prioritize what could be illegal restrictions by companies as to how consumers can repair, repurpose and reuse their own property.
Devices are often built today with no concessions made toward easy repair or refurbishment, or even once-routine upgrades like adding RAM or swapping out an ailing battery. While companies like Apple do often support hardware for a long time in some respects, the trade-off seems to be that if you crack your screen, the maker is your only real option to fix it.
That’s a problem for many reasons, as right-to-repair activist and iFixit founder Kyle Wiens has argued indefatigably for years (the company posted proudly about the statement on its blog). The FTC sought comment on this topic back in 2019, issued a report on the state of things a few months ago, and now (perhaps emboldened by new chair Lina Khan’s green light to all things fearful to Big Tech companies) has issued a policy statement.
The gist of the unanimously approved statement is that they found that the practice of deliberately restricting repairs may have serious repercussions, especially among people who don’t have the cash to pay the Apple tax for what ought to be (and once was) a simple repair.
The Commission’s report on repair restrictions explores and discusses a number of these issues and describes the hardships repair restrictions create for families and businesses. The Commission is concerned that this burden is borne more heavily by underserved communities, including communities of color and lower-income Americans. The pandemic exacerbated these effects as consumers relied more heavily on technology than ever before.
While unlawful repair restrictions have generally not been an enforcement priority for the Commission for a number of years, the Commission has determined that it will devote more enforcement resources to combat these practices. Accordingly, the Commission will now prioritize investigations into unlawful repair restrictions under relevant statutes…
The statement then makes four basic points. First, it reiterates the need for consumers and other public organizations to report and characterize what they perceive as unfair or problematic repair restrictions. The FTC doesn’t go out and spontaneously investigate companies, it generally needs a complaint to set the wheels in motion, such as people alleging that Facebook is misusing their data.
Second is a surprising antitrust tie-in, where the FTC says it will look at said restrictions aiming to answer whether monopolistic practices like tying and exclusionary design are in play. This could be something like refusing to allow upgrades, then charging an order of magnitude higher than market price for something like a few extra gigs of storage or RAM, or designing products in such a way that it moots competition. Or perhaps arbitrary warranty violations for doing things like removing screws or taking the device to a third party for repairs. (Of course, these would depend on establishing monopoly status or market power for the company, something the FTC has had trouble doing.)
More in line with the FTC’s usual commercial regulations, it will assess whether the restrictions are “unfair acts or practices,” which is a much broader and easier to meet requirement. You don’t need a monopoly to make claims of an “open standard” to be misleading, or for a hidden setting to slow the operations of third-party apps or peripherals, for instance.
And lastly the agency mentions that it will be working with states in its push to establish new regulations and laws. This is perhaps a reference to the pioneering “right to repair” bills like the one passed by Massachusetts last year. Successes and failures along those lines will be taken into account and the feds and state policymakers will be comparing notes.
This isn’t the first movement in this direction by a long shot, but it is one of the plainest. Tech companies have seen the writing on the wall, and done things like expand independent repair programs — but it’s arguable that these actions were taken in anticipation of the FTC’s expected shift toward establishing hard lines on the topic.
The FTC isn’t showing its full hand here, but it’s certainly hinting that it’s ready to play if the companies involved want to push their luck. We’ll probably know more soon once it starts ingesting consumer complaints and builds a picture of the repair landscape.
If you’ve started using Snapchat more regularly this year, you’re not alone. At yesterday’s Q2 earnings call, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel announced that the platform grew both revenue and daily active users at the highest rates it has achieved in the last four years. Snapchat now has 293 million daily active users, growing 23% since last year.
Snap went public in 2017 with a $ 24 billion valuation, but not long before then, the ephemeral photo sharing app experienced a massive hiccup: Instagram cloned their then-unique Stories feature. After Instagram Stories launched, Snapchat’s growth slowed by 82%. Then, when Snapchat redesigned its app’s interface, Kylie Jenner tweeted that she didn’t use the app anymore, causing the company’s valuation to drop by $ 1.2 billion.
sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad.
— Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) February 21, 2018
But Snapchat held on and made a comeback. Its revenue reached an all-time high of $ 911 million in Q4 of 2020, then went down to $ 770 million the following quarter. Now, Snapchat’s revenue in Q2 of 2021 surpasses its previous high to reach $ 982 million.
The app’s Q2 growth could be attributed to the return of advertisers who scaled back their spending during the height of the pandemic, as well as the retention of users that flocked to the app while in lockdown. Like many social media platforms, Snapchat grew its revenue and user base during the pandemic, but this isn’t just a matter of re-engaging users with an app that they grew out of. As TikTok exploded on the scene and the creator economy boomed, Snapchat kept up by creating Spotlight, a TikTok clone, and investing in the applications of augmented reality.
“We made significant progress with our augmented reality platform this quarter,” Spiegel said. “More than 200 million Snapchatters engage with AR every day on average, and over 200,000 creators use Lens Studio to build AR Lenses for our community.”
Last month, Snapchat went viral for its Cartoon 3D Style Lens, which makes you look like a character in a Pixar movie. Spiegel specifically mentioned this lens as a feature that “highlighted the power of Lenses to go viral both inside and outside of Snapchat.” But beyond fun face filters, Snapchat has been using AR to woo e-commerce partners. The app has developed AR experiences for Walt Disney World, Smile Direct Club, Zenni Optical, e.l.f. Cosmetics, Ralph Lauren and more. This includes try-on capabilities for watches, jewelry, eyewear, handbags, makeup and even clothing. At its Partner Summit in May, Snapchat revealed an update that lets users scan friends’ outfits to find shopping recommendations for similar styles.
“We have a lot more work ahead to build out our technology and increase AR adoption, but we are thrilled with the results that our partners are seeing as we invest in our long-term camera opportunity,” said Jeremi Gorman, Snap’s chief business officer. “We are confident in our long-term opportunity, and are excited to double down on shopping and commerce via augmented reality.”
In March, Snap acquired Fit Analytics, a Berlin-based startup that helps shoppers find the right-sized apparel and footwear when shopping online. Combined with Snap’s investment in AR, could we eventually use AR to see which size of clothing to order? The application of that sort of technology would need to be handled sensitively, especially as the rates of eating disorders in teens are on the rise.
Beyond e-commerce, Snapchat has sought out strategic partnerships with entertainment companies like HBO Max and Universal Music Group and doubled down on its Spectacles, glasses that create AR experiences. Of course, Facebook is working on AR glasses too. But for both companies, Snap’s recent successes show the rising adoption and value of AR experiences.