Snapchat, now calling itself Snap Inc. is expected to go public tomorrow, with an estimated value of 20-25 billion dollars, placing it alongside tech giants like Twitter. Apart from its estimated IPO value (the highest valuation of a US company since Facebook Inc.), people are now noticing that Snap is calling itself a camera company, and has been for months.
Rather than aligning itself with the likes of Kodak and Nikon, Snap Inc. says in its mission statement, “We believe that reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way that people live and communicate.”
The camera is the focal point of Snap. Automatically opening with the app, the camera is the interface through which people communicate in Snapchat. With chat to the left and stories to the right, the camera is at the centre, acting as a bridge between both content and communication- the foundations of social media.
This view reflects the past decade’s radical changes in what we expect from cameras. As well as taking photographs, cameras now take screenshots, record videos, scan QR codes, enhance searches, and play a crucial role in augmented reality (in apps such as Google SkyMap, and games like Ingress and Pokemon GO).
Spokesmen from Snap predict that the camera will become to smartphones what the “flashing cursor” is to desktops: the starting point, and the mediator through which we interact with the world.
It is not the only company to realise cameras’ shifting potential but, with 158 million daily users creating over 2.5 billion snaps a day, Snap Inc. is poised at the forefront of this change. As the New Yorker says, “Snap is a camera company. It’s just that the camera isn’t a camera anymore.”
The evolution of cameras has direct effects on the world of marketing: with the majority of Snap users being under the age of 34, millennials and generation z are coming to expect visual communication from brands. Snap, with its disappearing messages, reflects the fast-pace nature of consumerism, and allows for public, yet personal-seeming messages that take into consideration the user’s experience. Snap, then, and a new perception of cameras may be key to engaging the next generation of spenders.