It didn’t quite add up when Fortune broke the news last week that Snapchat would spend a $100 million to acquire Bitstrips, the maker of personalized avatar stickers called Bitmoji. Snapchat didn’t have anywhere to put them.
But today, Snapchat launched “Chat 2.0”, a huge product update that includes the ability to send over 200 stickers to friends. Now it’s quite apparent. Snapchat could use Bitstrips to let you make and send stickers that look like you.
While the companies have refused to confirm the deal or reveal the plan, the motive has finally come into focus. When I spoke to Snapchat representatives yesterday, they refused to talk about it Bitmoji but smiled and laughed at the supposed coincidence that Snapchat is now launching stickers.
The question now will be what Snapchat does with the Bitstrips avatar and comic maker, and the Bitmoji personalized emoji keyboard apps.
Snapchat could shut them down or curtail their extendability to make Bitmoji exclusive to its platform. However, that seems like a waste of a growth opportunity.
Instead, it might make sense to keep them running independently but with an option to import your avatar stickers into Snapchat. Alternatively, it could more heavily bake Snapchat into the Bitstrips and Bitmoji experience, making it easy to share comics you create to Snapchat, and reminding you to go send some Snaps, and watch or add to your story.
For reference, Snapchat previously pulled Looksery’s app from the store after acquiring the company’s talent to build its animated selfie lens.
There’s no Bitmoji integration in Snapchat stickers just yet, but you can bet it’s on the way. Snapchat smartly lets you both browse through stickers, or instantly shows you ones related to words you’ve typed in the text compose window. For example, typing “Love you” or “Hungry” brings up all the stickers matching those sentiments, and even highlights the text after you choose a sticker so you can instantly delete or type over the words.
While WhatsApp focuses on simplicity and Facebook Messenger delves into commerce, Snapchat could corner the market on vivid, rich media chat with the help of stickers made from digital versions of your face.