Facebook Fires Its Slingshot At The Deadpool

Facebook Fires Its Slingshot At The Deadpool

Shane BarnhillTuesday,15 July 2014

The Snap:

In June, Facebook made its second attempt to poke at Snapchat’s dominance of ephemeral messaging by releasing Slingshot, a new app based on an odd core mechanic: To view an incoming “sling” (photo post) from a friend, a user needs to first sling a photo back in return. The original sender, then, cannot view the return sling until they send back another photo. This process, of course, was intended to create never-ending dialogues between Facebook friends, with prior content disappearing from the conversation.

The early response to Slingshot’s approach was lukewarm, to put it mildly. Ellis Hamburger of The Verge noted that Slingshot is “filled with many charming, original ideas,” but cautioned that the app’s “‘pay to play’ mechanic is difficult to wrap your head around. It’s frustrating, not exciting when a friend sends you a shot and you can’t immediately view it.” Similarly, Josh Constine of TechCrunch warned that the “reply-to-unlock could be seen as an annoying gimmick, introducing too much friction. Why make a friend work for your photo when you could just text them?”

The Download:

Well, it appears that the initial reactions to Slingshot from both Hamburger and Constine — “frustrating” and “annoying,” respectively — are exactly how users have gauged the app. According to App Annie, Facebook’s Slingshot reached its peak position in the iOS app store on June 18, the day after its release, as the 4th most popular Photo and Video app in the United States (and the 46th most popular app overall in the U.S.). But by July 3, Slingshot had fallen out of the top 1000 apps overall, and was no longer among the top 100 apps in the Photo and Video category (see chart, below). In fact, it’s not even in the top 350 photo/video apps anymore, having fallen behind such gems as CreamCam Selfie Smoother (number 97), Get Followers For Instagram (number 258), and even Plastic Surgery Simulator Lite (number 220). Yes, you read that right. In the iOS App Store, those apps are beating the pants off of an app that has the funding, support and marketing muscle of Facebook.

Slingshot - iOS App Store


But what about Android? Glad you asked, because the situation isn’t much rosier. On Google Play, Slingshot never fared better than 39th place among Social apps in the United States, and 461st place among U.S. apps overall. Currently, Slingshot isn’t even ranked among the top 200 Social apps; it fell out of the top 500 apps overall on Google Play after just three days.

Slingshot - Google Play ranking

Clearly, Facebook’s Slingshot has misfired, and it reflects poorly upon the company’s relatively new Creative Labs initiative, which was designed to allow “small teams the freedom to form within the company and build standalone apps or other projects that live outside the core Facebook experience.” Creative Labs is now 0-2 with two huge strikeouts, after Facebook Paper failed quickly despite positive early reviews (“the best version of Facebook yet,” gushed Hamburger upon Paper’s release).

Despite Slingshot’s (and Paper’s, and Poke’s, and Camera’s, and Home’s) failings, Facebook has a long, healthy future ahead. With over 1 billion Monthly Active Users (MAUs), 72% revenue growth in Q1 2014 and an impressive portfolio that includes Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus VR, the company will undoubtedly continue to make both large leaps through acquisitions, and small spaghetti-against-the-wall internal investments. Perhaps some of the latter will succeed. But not Slingshot. I’m calling its official “time of death” as of 11:59pm on July 3, 2014.


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Hat Tips:

The Verge, TechCrunch, App Annie, BuzzFeedSlingshot, Time, EngadgetInside Facebook, PC MagazineThe Verge (again), TechCrunch (again), Image Credit: Flickr

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