Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has finally admitted that initially, Snapchat was ahead of it, and they were slow to compete with it. But now the gap has been filled, and the social networking giant is offering the most popular camera-focused sharing app in the world, he says.

“I think we were a little bit late to the trend initially around making cameras the center of how sharing works,” but now, “we’re pretty much ahead in terms of the technology …,” Zuckerberg said during the first-quarter conference call.

Snapchat Facebook Zuckerberg
KiNG_PEEWEE / Pixabay

Beating Snapchat at its own game

Facebook has been copying Snapchat features for some time now, and users like it (not the copying, per se, but the features resulting from it). Snapchat held its IPO on February 2, and after that, Facebook introduced a copycat feature into Messenger and WhatsApp by adding the Stories function. The copied function was already available on Instagram before WhatsApp and Messenger.

Snap, which was founded by Evan Spiegel, saw its shares tumble after Jefferies analysts said Facebook will continue to copy its innovation. Facebook’s Instagram has a user base of 700 million, compared to Snapchat’s 158 million, according to its IPO filing. Instagram is gradually emerging as the biggest threat to Snapchat, a company Facebook once wanted to buy.

For now, Facebook is not a direct competitor to Snapchat, but Instagram is. Facebook’s photo-sharing social network has added a host of new features which will fuel its growth further. If Instagram’s success story continues, it will become Facebook’s fourth product to be used by a billion people on a monthly basis.

Zuckerberg also talked about the success of WhatsApp Status, saying it now has 175 million daily users in only 10 weeks since its launch. The number is larger than Snapchat as a whole. Snapchat was the early mover by focusing more on visual communication and a curated set of AR selfie filters. However, Facebook was able to sprint ahead of Snapchat and beat it at its own game, given its vast user base, stable profits and good terms with developers.

Facebook aims to bring first AR ecosystem

During the conference call, Zuckerberg also discussed AR and Facebook’s future offerings based on these technologies. He added that Facebook wants to come up with the first AR ecosystem for the masses. However, Zuckerberg clearly stated that the firm is still not looking to monetize the service.

Zuckerberg also talked about his ambition and new mission to “build community,” something that he already described in his February humanitarian manifesto, notes TechCrunch. To fulfill this ambition, the company will work towards pushing people to join community groups, offering relief to people to get through disaster and crisis through Community Help and launching Townhall, where people can connect with their elected representatives.

Facebook reported strong first-quarter numbers, posting revenue of $8.03 billion and $1.04 per share in GAAP earnings, against the 87 cents per share that had been estimated. Facebook’s user base widened to 1.94 billion users, an increase from 1.86 billion in the last quarter, growing at a rate of 4.3% compared to 3.91% in the previous quarter.