theory: snapchat launched an app platform

Discover may look like content distribution, but instead of “publisher” think “developer,” and instead of “channel” think “app.” And then go through the list of capabilities they can bring…

  1. Interaction? Check. You may not have all the tools of Swift or Java at your disposal, but the v1 of Discover (especially with publishers taking over the entire screen) points to app-like experiences down the road. The basics of navigation are similar (swipe between stories, swipe down to exit), but note that they gave each of their publishers a lot of leeway in how they are present their content. Vice’s channel looks nothing like The Daily Mail’s.
  2. Snapchat-driven discovery & distribution? Check. They can use all sorts of in-product mechanics to promote Discover and the apps on the platform.
  3. User-driven discovery & distribution? Check. Obviously this isn’t there yet, but they have the graph, they have the messaging channel, and can light this up at will.
  4. App to user communication? Check. Snaps for alerts, stories for marketing, chat & video for support.
  5. Identity? Check. There’s no such thing as a logged out Snapchat user.
  6. Payments? Check. Even if Snapcash is just an early experiment, it’s a useful one.

So while zero day partners are media companies, it’s pretty easy to imagine the slate of circles growing to include a social games (Trivia Crack or Words With Friends, anyone?). Or motivational diet, health or meditation apps (here’s your calorie counter, here’s your moment of zen). Or even a personal finance app (what did you spend today?).

Apps on Snapchat won’t be exactly like native apps on iOS or Android, for obvious reasons (not least of which might end up being the buried in the terms of service of the App Store). But the “full screen” nature of Snapchat (as opposed to the translated-from-desktop-web stream of Facebook), combined with the all the assets above tells me this isn’t just about media.