Twitch, Slingshot Suggest Big Companies’ Future Is Small Apps


Facebook may have missed out on buying Snapchat, but that hasn’t cooled the company’s ardor for disappearing-messages apps—or the audiences that come with them: The Financial Times reports that Facebook’s engineers are hard at work on an “ephemeral messaging” platform that would vaporize videos and photos after a single view.

Facebook recently discontinued Poke, its two-year-old app that replicated much of Snapchat’s functionality, after it failed to gain much of an audience. This new attempt, reportedly named “Slingshot,” will likely operate as a standalone module, in the manner of Messenger, Paper, and other Facebook apps. Rather than focus on adding functionality to its main site, Facebook’s mobile strategy has centered on breaking off a growing number of services—such as messaging or photos—into discrete apps, the better to wrap old software in a fresh and shiny package.

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Unless Slingshot can seize the younger demographic that loves Snapchat, though, the app will likely prove a failure in Facebook’s eyes.

Speaking of young, hot apps, YouTube is reportedly in the market to purchase Twitch, the popular website that allows users to live-stream their video-game play for a worldwide audience. Variety suggests the purchase is imminent, and the price $1 billion; The Wall Street Journal, on the other hand, is positioning the talks as decidedly early-stage.

Twitch could prove a valuable asset to YouTube, fattening its monthly audience numbers—and revenue—with tens of millions of new visitors, provided Google (YouTube’s parent company) manages to absorb the website without ruining what draws in its audience. Twitch had 45 million monthly unique visitors in February, according to the Journal, with more than 1 million content creators.

Whether by building in-house or through acquisition, it’s clear that some of the biggest names in tech think that single-purpose apps and websites are their key to growth. Can that strategy allow them to fend off the young, hungry startups that want to take their business?

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Image: Twitch