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Instagram Stories may be good enough to slow Snapchat’s growth

Instagram Stories may be good enough to slow Snapchat’s growth, especially amongst existing Instagram users. Instagram Stories appear at the top of the feed, so there’s no way to miss them. The core drawing and text overlay tools are there. And most importantly, you don’t have to build a new audience on a different app.

Instagram Stories lacks the quality of Snapchat Stories. There are no geofilters, animated selfie lenses, 3D stickers, speed effects or screenshot alerts. The camera isn’t the default home screen for spontaneous recording. And uploads don’t go as smoothly. 

The real target for Instagram Stories, though, are all the people who’ve been curious about Snapchat’s fun creation tools and format, but either tried and abandoned it, or wrote it off as just for teens or too much work to adopt.

If it doesn’t work out, Instagram could still scrap the Stories feature. The only cost will be some development time and the insults that it copied Snapchat… which Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom deftly deflated by fully admitting to me in an interview that “they deserve all the credit.” With or without Stories, Instagram still dominates polished social media the way Facebook would have still dominated big life event and opinion sharing even without Subscribe.

If Instagram Stories is a success, it may be able to defang its most dangerous adversary. Facebook’s previous attempts to clone Snapchat like Poke, Slingshot and Bolt all failed, largely because they tried to make an “even-better” version of Snapchat that could go toe-to-toe with it as a standalone app. Here, Facebook wised up and baked a good-enough version into an already popular app.

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