Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
Snap continues to rebound, adding 13 million daily active users to Snapchat this past quarter. Those added users bring the total number of people using the app around the world every day to 203 million, which is the highest it’s been since Snap went public. The growth indicates that Snap’s investment in product features for a more global user base is paying off and that its luck in creating viral face filters is helping it grow, too. Snap estimates that between 7 and 9 million users joined because of the face filters with the remaining 4 to 6 million users being attributable to the company’s broader product focuses.
Last quarter, it released an updated, optimized version of its Android app after years of Android users complaining about a lagged experience and poor quality. Given that most of the world’s population uses an Android device, the redesigned app clearly makes it appealing and functional for more people. CEO Evan Spiegel said in prepared remarks today that the change encouraged Snapchatters using the Android app to send 7 percent more snaps compared to the old version. Beyond the app release, however, the company is also taking other steps to ensure that people outside of English-speaking countries are welcomed on the app.
Spiegel says the company is partnering with global telecommunication companies that serve more than a billion people so that it can manage data costs. He didn’t elaborate in his prepared remarks how this arrangement works or with which companies it’s working. But people in developing countries often have more data usage restrictions, so ensuring that data costs are kept low is essential for companies looking to expand abroad. In 2019, the company also launched in eight new languages that are spoken by more than 750 million people globally, including Hindi, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, Vietnamese, and Urdu. Given that most of the languages are spoken in the Indian market, it’s likely safe to assume that Snap sees India as a place for growth.
Apart from its global efforts, Snap had a bit of viral magic with the launch of a filter that made users appear like the opposite gender. It also made them look like babies, and celebrities like Kim Kardashian West shared the filter results on Instagram. Even still, people had to download or at least reopen Snapchat to try the filter, regardless of where they posted the results. Snap says it’s “cautiously optimistic” that the growth trend in user engagement will continue into the next year.
On the product side, this has been a quieter quarter for Snap. It made multiple big product announcements last quarter during its first partner summit in Los Angeles. At the event, Snap said that Snapchat Stories would come to Tinder and Houseparty, Snap ads will appear in other developers’ apps, it’s building a video game platform and a roster of original programs, and it developed new AR filters that make the Eiffel Tower puke rainbows.
While the team isn’t seemingly focused on splashy products, at least this past quarter, less exciting, essential updates can contribute to growth, which appears to be what’s happening in Snap’s case.