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Since an unsuccessful $3 billion takeover attempt of Snapchat in 2013, Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) has been developing its own video messaging app to compete with its competitor.
Known within the company as Slingshot, Facebook has been working on the new messaging app since Snapchat rebuffed its overtures late last year, reports the Financial Times. And, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has personally been overseeing the top-secret project, according to people familiar with the matter.
The in-development app allows users to send a photo or short video message, which can only be viewed once by the recipient, by tapping or holding a contact's profile picture. Should it launch, Slingshot will operate separately from the company's popular texting app, Facebook Messenger. That fits into Zuckerberg's strategy of unbundling the social network group into a standalone mobile service.
Slingshot is Facebook's second attempt to chip away at Snapchat's success. The first attempt was in December 2012 with Poke, an app that mimicked its competitors' format of photos and videos that vanish up to 10 seconds after viewing.
Poke, however, was a flop. It was removed from the Facebook App Store earlier this month with no explanation or goodbye post.
Its failure is also a stark reminder that Snapchat has a solid foothold and strong head start on Facebook in the messaging space...
"When you're coming to market late and trying to compete with what is already a service with a very large user base, it becomes very difficult to close that gap, even for a company like Facebook," Geoff Blaber, mobile analyst at CCS Insight, told the Financial Times.
Here's why FB is so eager to make this work...
Facebook Could Score If Slingshot's a Hit
Operation Slingshot comes on the heels of Facebook's $19.4 billion acquisition of WhatsApp in February. Another popular chat app with some 500,000 active users, WhatsApp Messenger boosted Facebook's global presence.
It was also an acknowledgment from Facebook that more and more of its 1.2 billion members are increasingly using the site as a means to communicate one-on-one.