Snapchat’s Loss of Focus

Remember Snapchat?

The genesis of Snapchat started with disappearing pictures that you could send to a group of people. Then Snapchat added stories where you could send a collection of videos and images to a group of people.

The theme has been clear so far, it has been all about the camera. That’s why Snapchat’s latest moves are so peculiar. Instead of focusing on the camera or innovating on stories, Snapchat is focusing on location.

It’s true that the average internet user spends about 6% of his/her day online. The rest of it is offline. That’s plenty of time to visit the mall, bars, restaurants, and countless other locations throughout the day. Each visit to a place is a potential transaction waiting to happen. So location is a big deal and Snapchat wants a chunk of it.

That might explain why Snapchat gobbled up Placed. Most of Snapchat’s users are taking pics and videos at different places around their city and being able to attribute foot traffic to those places could greatly increase Snapchat’s advertising revenue.

There is just one problem.

No one equates Snapchat and places together. Snapchat is very much built around people you already know not around places. The result is a muddying of the interface where users are presented with random stories of places when they are searching. Worse, they are presented with stories from people they don’t even know. For an app in the personal messaging space, that is a no-no.

Beyond the evolving cluttered interface, no one thinks about Snapchat when they want to know what’s going on in their city. Apps like Yelp and Facebook Events still reign supreme in that department.

The end result is a haphazard focus that will frustrate users who just wanted to send pictures and videos to their closest friends. Instead, Snapchat should really be doubling down on creating content around topics which has really works well for them and has the potential to generate greater returns than location.