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Look Who Else Is Following Snapchat

WhatsApp’s newest feature may look familiar

February 22, 2017 | Mobile

WhatsApp announced a new feature that lets users share photos, videos and GIFs that disappear after 24 hours. Sound familiar?

US WhatsApp Users, 2015-2021 (millions and % change)

The Facebook-owned company announced the revamp of its Status feature in a blog post on Monday. When WhatsApp first launched Status, the feature was relatively simple. Users were able to change their status to words or phrases like “available,” “busy” or “at the movies.”

Eight years later, the new update looks completely different from WhatsApp’s original text-only version. Instead, it looks very similar to Snapchat.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has replicated Snapchat’s features. Instagram, another Facebook-owned company, rolled out Instagram Stories in August 2016, which also lets users share photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. And Facebook itself is currently testing a Snapchat Stories-like feature in Ireland.

“It’s clear that Snapchat has come up with something that is very popular, and it’s not surprising that others want to copy it,” said Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst at eMarketer. “One of the best things about Snapchat is its ability to come up with innovative ways for its users to communicate. If it can continue to stay ahead of the curve, it will be less likely to feel the pressure from its larger rivals.

“WhatsApp has obviously noticed the success of Snapchat’s similar feature and is trying to capitalize on it,” she added.

WhatsApp’s US user base is roughly half that of Snapchat’s, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast. This year, 20.5 million people in the country will use WhatsApp, and by the end of 2021, the user base will reach 25.6 million.

By contrast, Snapchat will reach 70.4 million US users in 2017, and 89.2 million by 2021.

—Rimma Kats

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