Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom (pictured) admitted the photo app’s Stories feature is “definitely similar to Snapchat”, but thinks his company is building on the service rather than copying it.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), he said having more than one app offering the same feature – which lets users add photos and videos to a stream which disappears after 24 hours – is the same as having more than one company making a car.
“The first time you see a product show up somewhere else it feels a lot like copying but imagine a world where the only car was the Ford Model T. Just because they have wheels and windows and AC doesn’t mean that you’re copying.”
“You’ve got DreamWorks and Pixar and Disney, they’re all doing computer-animated film. That doesn’t mean they’re copying each other. They’re building upon a technology,” he said.
Instagram Stories enjoyed more success than Snapchat, with over 200 million daily active users, compared to around 160 million for the original messaging app.
This shows Instagram: “clearly provides unique value to people that they’re not getting elsewhere,” said Systrom.
He explained Instagram’s decision to launch Stories was because people wanted to share certain photos, but thought they weren’t good enough for their permanent Instagram timeline.
“Focusing on high-end highlights is wonderful and, honestly, it makes Instagram, Instagram. But just by focusing on that, we’re missing out on this tremendous wealth of moments in your life that could bring you closer to other people,” he said.
He also explained the company is trying to scale in developing markets, indicating there may be a ‘lite’ version of Instagram in the works, much like parent Facebook developed for its core app and Messenger service.
“Instagram can’t just be for developed markets with nice phones…Stories is a tremendous amount of video and bandwidth hungry. How do we do that in other countries where you may be on a limited data plan?”
Systrom also said app makers must have “a window of relevance” in which to constantly reinvent their offering, otherwise “you die”.