The Battle For Snappy Picture Messages Continues: Instagram Is Latest Competitor To Join The Ever-Growing List Of Contenders

Snapchat has quickly become one of the most used applications among both iOS and Android users. The idea of taking a picture and sending it to your friends that only lasts 10 seconds at the most has become one of the most popular thing to do among smartphone users.

Snapchat has added many features and enhancements to its application since its initial release, including video snaps, My Story, live chatting with other users, filters, text chatting between users and more. As you’d expect, other companies have taken note of the success behind Snapchat’s formula, and have tried to replicate it within their own services.

Facebook tried launching a similar service of their own a few weeks ago, but it never really took off like the company was hoping for. Now enter Instagram. The most popular photo-sharing social network on the planet has just added a new app to its app to directly take on Snapchat. That app, ladies and gentlemen, is called Bolt.

Bolt functions a lot like other apps of the same caliber do. By selecting a friend’s face, you can quickly snap a picture and immediately send it to said friend. Holding down on a friend’s circular icon will initiate a video recording that will then be sent when you lift up your finger. If you want to undo a Bolt to one of your friends, all you have to do is shake your phone. Sounds cool right? It actually does. Although Snapchat essentially does the same thing, it would be nice to have both an full-fledged photo-sharing service and a Snapchat-like feature built right into one application.

Unfortunately, there’s a pretty big catch that goes along with Bolt. As of the writing of this article, Instagram’s Bolt is currently only available in South Africa, New Zealand and Singapore. An Instagram spokesperson commented on this matter, saying that “We’re going to other regions soon, but are starting with a handful of countries to make sure we can scale the experience. Instagram has 65 percent of its users overseas, so an international launch, while different, is actually not all that out of order with what we do.”

While a limited release like this certainly is disappointed for those of us not located in those three countries, it makes a good deal of sense for Instagram. These types of photo messaging services can be tricky to nail down. Facebook’s own Slingshot didn’t really take off that well, and with Instagram being owned by Facebook, you can guess that Facebook wanted Instagram to test out the app only in select countries to see how it was received before doing a full-scale release. Snapchat has already got an incredible following, so drawing users away from that to a different photo messaging site is no easy task at all, even for a brand as widely used as Instagram. A successful photo messaging service, if done properly, could be fantastic for Instagram. Why would it be though? Think about this. Snapchat has just a mere fraction of the registered users that Instagram does. However, Snapchat reports that over half a billion snaps are sent every single day, whereas only 60 million photos are shared on Instagram each day. A photo messaging service, if done right, could bring much higher activity levels to the ever-popular photo sharing site.