What’s coming next for Snapchat?
We’ll soon find out – today, Snap Inc. has announced its fourth annual Partner Summit, which will be held on April 28th, via a digital event.
Sub-titled ‘Back to Reality’, Snap will use the event to showcase its latest projects and features, including its evolving work on augmented reality, digital items, Snap Minis, content upgrades, and more.
Snapchat has announced a range of tools and additions at its previous Partner Summits, including its SnapKit developer platform (which fuels Snap Minis), totally new in-app functions, improvements to the Snap Camera, as well as new, advanced Lens types.
At last year’s event, we even got our first glance at its still-in-development AR Spectacles, the next stage of its wearables push.
Various AR developers are now working with Snap on the next iteration of Spectacles, and it’ll be interesting to see whether we get an update on the project at this year’s event.
Of course, Meta and Apple, among others, are also developing their own AR wearable devices, and it would seem, based on company scale, that these bigger players would have a distinct advantage in this respect.
But I wouldn’t be counting Snap out. Despite being much smaller, both in terms of revenue and usage, Snapchat is arguably still the leading innovator in the AR space, and as it continues to evolve its tools, it’s proven time and time again that it can compete with anyone, even without the same technical capacity.
AR spectacles are definitely evolving, as demonstrated by the various clips that Snap has shared online, while it’s also still expanding its Snap Originals programming, and further investing in the development of digital items, via Bitmoji avatar additions and other tools.
Expect to hear more about each of these elements in a few weeks, and it’s definitely worth tuning in to hear not only what Snap’s working on, but also to get a sense of where things are headed, given the company’s nous for leading such trends.
Instagram Expands NFT Display Options to More Than 100 Regions
While NFT sales continue to decline, and interest in the first wave of digital collectibles appears to be waning, Meta is expanding its support of digital collectibles, by making its NFT display option on Instagram available in more than 100 countries, meaning that the vast majority of IG users will now have the option to display their owned works in the app.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has posted his own signed baseball card, which will soon become an NFT, to announce the expansion.
Originally launched to selected creators in the US back in May, Instagram’s NFT display option enables users to showcase their NFTs within the main IG feed, in Stories or in Direct Messages.
As you can see in this example, NFTs on Instagram will be shown with a ‘digital collectibles’ tag, which, when tapped, will display information about the creator of the work, and the ownership of that digital item.
There’ll also be a new NFT tab added to participating accounts, with a tick in a hexagon to indicate verified NFTs.
Instagram’s NFT process supports a range of connections to the top crypto payment tools, including Coinbase, Dapper, Ethereum, Polygon, and Flow. NFT owners are also able to connect their Rainbow, Trust Wallet and MetaMask accounts to verify NFT ownership.
The expansion could see NFTs become a bigger part of the Instagram eco-system, which, on one hand, seems a little ill-timed – because as noted, NFT sales are seeing a significant decline at the moment. But on the other, the integration will provide another way to support artists, with Meta specifically highlighting the benefits for creators from underrepresented communities to monetize their work.
If people keep buying them. According to a recent report from CoinTelegraph, NFT sales declined to their lowest levels in a year in June, bringing them back to, essentially, pre-NFT hype cycle levels.
Of course, the broader downturn in the crypto market would also play a big role in this, but the overall consensus is that the air is coming out of the NFT market, as buyers continue to lose money – either to scams or market shifts – and the perceived value of NFT projects becomes less and less clear.
But still, this is likely only the first wave of digital collectibles.
A lot of Web3 folk like to talk about how ‘early’ they are to these trends, as if that’s a good thing, but the fact of the matter is that these early adopters are going to lose out, repeatedly, because these early projects will largely be worthless in the long run, while NFTs, as an offering, will change and morph into new areas that could see them hold value.
Just not as expensive cartoons that look like they’ve been stolen from the walls of an elementary school corridor.
The longer-term view for NFTs is that they’ll enable the trading of digital items in the metaverse, like clothing for your avatar or in-world items. This type of marketplace is already generating millions within game worlds, like Fortnite and Roblox, and Meta’s view is that NFTs are the first step towards facilitating the same on a broader scale.
As per Meta:
“We’re exploring a wide range of web3 technologies because we believe they will expand access, reduce costs, and accelerate innovation, empowering people and creators around the world. We are excited to continue listening to feedback from creators and collectors as we continue to build in this space.”
Whether crypto remains a central peg in this, or it reverts to fiat currency, the potential is there for the NFT framework to facilitate this type of cross-platform trading. But not yet.
So, yes, current Web3 folk are early. But it may not be the flex that they think.
On another front, Meta also notes that it’s working to reduce the emissions impact associated with the display of digital collectibles by purchasing renewable energy
There are various moving parts here, but the broader view is that this is not about displaying your monkey pictures within Instagram as the end, but it’s more of a stepping stone to enable Meta to integrate the trading of digital goods into its tools, in a way that aligns with current usage trends, and doesn’t feel as intrusive as, say, Meta building its own crytocurrency.
That would raise more questions, and open the door to increased regulation. But by integrating similar tools, and aligning with popular trends, that could be a more organic way to merge in digital items and payments, without raising as many eyebrows in the process.
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