Sound Off on Facebook's SlingShot
You’ve probably seen that Facebook recently launched its take on SnapChat in the form of Sling Shot.
Sling Shot is a standalone app without Facebook branding, that lets contacts share images with one another that are only viewable for a short length of time.
Unlike SnapChat, which lets users view images they’ve been sent immediately, Sling Shot requires users to first send an image over to the person that’s sent them something.
Having tried, enjoyed but grown out of SnapChat quickly, I was keen to see what the Sling Shot experience was like, and quickly found it to be rather poor.
After quickly adding a friend known for his early adoption of new apps, I received a notification that he’d sent me an image. Not in the mood to be ‘a creator, not just a spectator’, I felt the pressure the app’s launch blog post said would be no more.
Sending an image back to my friend so I could unlock what he’d sent me, rather than being one of ‘the little things in life’ that ‘can turn into awesome shared experiences’, became an unwelcomed burden.
I looked around my room, took a quick dull snap of my desk lamp and finally got to see what I’d been sent; a quick snap of his own boring, pinewood Ikea desk.
Whilst SnapChat often encourages and generates mundane and non-entertaining content, it can sometimes provide genuine fun and surprise, such is the spontaneity and immediacy of it. Sling Shot however, is time consuming and makes users work when they might not want to
It reminded me of having to visit my local sorting office for a piece of post I’d been sent by a distant Aunt who hadn't put enough stamps on it. I had to go out of my way for something that if I’m honest, I didn’t get much out of (a brief postcard from the sea side if you’re wondering).
Why Facebook bothered to spend time and money on Sling Shot at all is beyond me. The whole thing seems like a classic example of people high up seeing some headlines about something outside of their company getting lots of attention, and rushing to do something along the same lines to get a piece of the pie, totally skipping the part where you come up with something people might be interested in.
I’d be very surprised if Sling Shot becomes popular and finds itself with a big active user base, especially in light of everybody knowing Facebook’s behind it, despite there being no big blue square and white F logo. Facebook’s not been cool, new and exciting for some time amongst youngsters (though they’re not quitting it as occasionally reported) and Sling Shot’s not going to change this.
A better idea for the corporation would be to put its gigantic finance and resource behind something useful; perhaps apps and tools that can support the non-for-profit sector. At the least, they’d help its busy press office in light of one privacy news story after another.