Could Snapchat be about to come out of the shadows and show the way in which sports can finally embrace AR in a meaningful way?
Snapchat have this week showed their willingness to open up to third-party developers. Allowing them to ustile the technology they have available and build experiences, all within the Snapchat app. But why would they want to do this?
Minis allow these new experiences to be developed by external parties, brining new innovation to the platform at a scale they themselves could not manage to attain.
Doing so means that these ‘sticky’ experiences are going to be varied and help to keep users on the platform, something that is vitally important for the Snapchat. A platform that boomed amongst that key ‘young fan’ demographic, much as TikTok is doing today, until Instagram Stories launched and stalled its growth.
Snap’s Director of Product, Will Wu, told Engadget “We really wanted to, with his initial slate, explore a bunch of different categories, almost as like an experiment to just to try to build new products, and try and see if we can make something that’s creative and really does bring friends together.”
To start with there are a limited number of apps available to use, one of which is a Snap-produced app called “lets Do It”.
- Meditation app Headspace, which will allow users to access short guided meditation sessions.
- Coachella’s app, so groups of friends can view the festival’s lineup and plan which performances to watch.
- Prediction Master, an app from Mammoth Media, that allows friend groups to “make predictions”.
- Saturn And Tembo, apps for comparing class schedules and study prep, respectively.
- Atom, an app for buying movie tickets and watching trailers with a group of friends.
- Let’s Do It, a Snap-built app for “making group decisions”.
One example that is highlighted in the Engadget article is how the MLB Ballpark app, “your mobile companion when visiting your favorite Major League Baseball ballparks” will be able to use Snapchat lenses to allow fans to interact with team mascots in AR.
In these COVID-19 times where fans are unable to get to games, and when they do in the coming months it will be a different experience than the one they were used to. AR could help the likes of The MLB to fill those gaps and allow fans to engage with the team in new ways.
With all the uncertainty around TikTok, and general unhappiness with Facebook, can Snapchat take advantage and start to tempt sports teams and brands back onto the platform?
The use of AR is only going to expand and the platform is ideally situated to take advantage. With rumour that Nike are exploring ways in which it can use the AR lenses too, this could be a major draw and help to form a new and valuable industry.
As Will Wu mentioned in his quote, at this stage it is an experiment as they look at how creative developers can be in creating fantastic new apps, and how likely it is that the likes of Nike are going to put resources into it.