Facebook’s Flash is About Going Past the United States

Brazil may not be a hub for the latest tech, but it does get one privilege: Brazilians are trying out Facebook’s latest app – Flash – before anyone else.

The new photo-sharing app might look familiar when you look at its filters and lenses. It’s providing the same service as Snapchat, but in a much lighter load for your phone battery and data bill.

The company is claiming that the app only occupies 25MB of space, according to Recode. The current Facebook app is a 54 MB download and Snapchat is 86.7MB. So, Flash is already half the size of Facebook’s normal app and less than a third of Snapchat’s size.

To save data in areas with less hotspots and connectivity, it will only download images automatically if it’s connected to WiFi, provide offline settings, and will work on older phone versions (but currently just Androids). Features similar to Discover are not necessary for the app, since users already have Facebook for their full social media experience with articles and advertising. Flash is bringing the app down to the basic features of Snapchat that made it popular in the first place, while saving data.

Currently, the app is only launching in Brazil, which is where Facebook had launched similar features within its main app during the Olympics.

And if Facebook wants to expand past the other looming competitors like Google and Apple, going into more emerging markets is the answer. Mary Meeker, in her 2016 Internet Trends report, noted that while the growth of global internet users has flattened, emerging markets like in India or Brazil show increase in internet user growth accelerating.

This means that, while it may be harder to make a dent in the market in places like the US where things have flattened out, Facebook can have first mover’s advantage before these markets have a chance to get exposed to Snapchat.

Facebook is looking to these new markets as a means to keep its growth from stagnating. Unlike some digital platforms, they have not ventured into hardware (with the exception of stepping into the virtual reality game with the Oculus Rift). Their previous attempts at extension apps within the U.S. have failed to the point that they closed Facebook Creative Labs, a whole internal initiative to build extension apps.

Facebook seems to do better when it’s acquiring another app. Instagram, which released its own Snapchat clone, and WhatsApp both help to contribute to the company’s large market share. Just yesterday, Facebook acquired a face recognition application, FacioMetrics. If users don’t have to go to Snapchat, Facebook’s can gain more traction and further solidify itself in the emerging markets.

According to Facebook’s newsroom, 84.9 percent of their daily active users come from outside of the U.S. and Canada. Meanwhile, although Snapchat has topped the charts across the globe, it’s mostly in Europe and other developed markets—leaving places like Brazil still open for Facebook to dominate with their ephemeral photo sharing service.

But, whether it’ll catch on or just be a flash in the pan is up to users to decide.

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