‘‘Internet-connected photography is really a reinvention of the camera.’’
Snapchat is the north star for technology companies of the future. They’re actively reinventing how people communicate and express themselves, enabling people to live in the moment while sharing their authentic selves with friends and family.
Snapchat, now Snap Inc. is more than just a technology company. They’re leveraging smartphone, internet and especially camera ubiquity to enable us to experience the world together.
In the words of CEO Evan Spiegel, “Snapchat has to do with the way photographs have changed. In the past, photographs were used to explain really important memories, but today, with the advent of the mobile phone and the connected camera, pictures are being used for talking.”
Snapchat’s rise in popularity hints at a larger truth about the technology companies of the future.
As the impact of technology on society grows stronger, the most successful companies will benefit from an intricate grasp of the ever-evolving interplay between technology and culture.
Apple and Snapchat understand this in ways that Silicon Valley traditionally hasn’t. Snapchat’s cultural awareness was lucid in Friday’s leaked spectacle release. They marketed the glasses as a toy instead of futuristic technology, vowing not to make the same marketing mistakes Google did with the Google Glass. Spiegel purposely undersells spectacles referring to them “as a toy, to be worn for kicks at a barbecue or an outdoor concert.” New technology catches on when it’s fun and fashionable, not scary and nerdy.
Spectacles v Glass:
Flippant,silly v serious,refined
Larkish v pricy,committed
Occasional v always
My eyes PoV v film PoV
Focused v unsure
— Andy Matuschak (@andy_matuschak) September 24, 2016
By positioning spectacles as a toy, the glasses are fun and unthreatening (and make a great Christmas gift ). 🎅
As facial cameras become universal, marketing teams must function in synergistic tandem with product designers and technologists. Snapchat is guided by this truth.
Circular video and a 115 degree field of view that mimics the human eye complement Snapchat’s more casual approach to product marketing. Most prominently, spectacles aren’t intimidating — they’re just toys. 😎
Snapchat just solved the portrait vs landscape video argument forever pic.twitter.com/iOsKeaeXkb
— Owen Williams⚡️ (@ow) September 24, 2016
As Zach Kahn astutely observes, Snapchat is taking a page from Apple’s product launch playbook with a culturally conscious utilization of media, entertainment and fashion.
The thing to 👀 is how @snap uses media (Joanna), entertainment (Lyton), and fashion (Kerr) to push Specs in the same way 🍎 did for the ⌚️
— Zach Kahn 🎉 (@zkahn94) September 24, 2016
Moving forward, the company that sits at the center of ubiquitous documentation of our lives will leverage a deep awareness of society, culture, and human psychology.
Early in its career, Snapchat made the conscious, and courageous decision to operate from Los Angeles instead of the Valley. It was one of the best decisions the company’s ever made. By choosing beach over valley, Snapchat can understand real people in ways that Silicon Valley based companies simply can’t.
Stuck in a bubble defined by on-demand groceries, computers for dogs, and trivial startups called Sup and Yo, Silicon Valley founders forget that technology is just a means to an end for most people.
LA leveraging its place as a cultural hub makes more sense than LA or NY as the next tech hub. A new frontier for consumer tech is culture.
— r. (@artypapers) June 23, 2014
Spiegel routinely meets with influential people from outside the technology industry, ranging from fashion designers, to movie makers, to musicians to make sense of the very societal truths that have escaped the Silicon Valley bubble.
As Snapchat gains cultural understanding, they will increasingly differentiate themselves from their Silicon Valley competitors. Snapchat already is, and will increasingly be, the primary method of communication for digital natives who prize visual and effortless sharing. In doing so, Snapchat will innovate around its core values — effortless connection, individualized creativity, and ephemerality.
By going beyond mere technological developments to redefine culture, Snapchat is tapping into the heart of today’s cultural zeitgeist. They’re fun, they’re hip, and soon, the enviable standard for Silicon Valley technology companies.
Let’s chat! You can reach me on Twitter at @david_perell 😎
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