Squawk May Be the Latest Contender for the Snapchat Crown

squawk-1Yesterday a new messaging app called Squawk launched in the Apple App Store, and the story of how it was developed using a very different angle – real input from a teen advisory group – is quite interesting. Is this the recipe to taking a bite out of the meteoric rise of Snapchat user base?

A group of teens met every Sunday afternoon for months with Squawk developers Chloe Bregman and Alex Karweit, and contributed thoughts on the app’s look, feel and functionality that could make it more appealing than Snapchat to teens.

One of the teen advisors, Christina Gee, was quoted in a Verge article on Squawk yesterday saying:

“These people really care about our perspective, and what we had to say,” says Gee. “At our first meeting, one of the things we discussed was if the background should be customizable by person or if you should share a background.”

As a result, unlike Snapchat, the backgrounds in the final version of the app are customizable.  The self-destruct feature of Snapchat messages (whether they actually destruct or not) is optional on Squawk, so users can delete some messages and allow recipients to keep others. One potentially troublesome feature is the ability for users to addtheir school name to their profile, which may make teens easier for creepers to find. I did not see mention in the privacy policy whether users can set their profile to private.

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Interestingly, Squawk features no Facebook integration at all (Snapchat allows it post-registration), as the teen advisers view Facebook intrusiveness as being “creepy”. Is Facebook listening?

Squawk may indeed be able to overtake Snapchat. Teens are famously willing to try new things, and many are probably under heat from parents to ditch Snapchat given the recent news coverage. And Snapchat is not all that big yet. One estimate from Tech Guru Steve Cheney pins Snapchat’s user base at around 15 million, but growing pretty quickly.

Good luck to the folks at Squawk, and kudos for engaging a young user group in designing an app aimed at that part of the market.

 

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