Over the past few years, Snapchat has been building up an increasingly complex weave of partnerships.
They have their advertising partners that power the vast majority of their monetization efforts. They have app developers on Snap Kit that they are also selling new features like CameraKit and Minis to. They’re bringing game developers on board for their Snap Games initiative, including another partnership with Zynga, which they announced today. They’re also continuing to chase mobile-first original content programming for Snapchat Discover. Sometimes these distinctions can create grey areas. For instance, in a conversation with TechCrunch, Ben Schwerin, Snap’s VP of Partnerships, insists Snapchat isn’t competitive with Quibi, which is an advertising partner.
“Comparing Quibi and Snapchat — and I know it’s easy to do — is like comparing cable TV and Snapchat,” he says.
Snapchat is perhaps better positioned than any other app in the United States to replicate what Tencent’s WeChat has pulled off in China, turning a friend-to-friend messaging app into a national platform. Snap is still a long way from pulling that off, but on Thursday at their annual Snap Partner Summit, they shared some of the required building blocks for making that happen, namely richer third-party experiences via upgrades to their developer kit and a new initiative called Snap Minis.
Snap says they now have 800 developers that have integrated with Snap Kit and that a combined 150 million users access these integrations on a monthly basis.
In the U.S., developers have had a largely frayed relationship with social media companies. Companies like Facebook and Twitter have significantly locked down many of the developer capabilities they launched with, often turning off features that were key to developer experiences overnight. Snapchat’s dedicated developer platform Snap Kit is only two years old at this point, but witnessing the pitfalls faced by Facebook in regard to privacy has allowed Snap to build out a platform that brings developers into the fold with certain features but keeps the real treasure — Snapchat’s social graph — buried inside its walled garden.