Facebook may have something of a new strategy: If you can't buy the competition, build a clone of it. Rumor has it that Facebook has built and is testing its own version of SnapChat, that popular-with-the-youngsters app that many associate with sexting. It should come out in the final weeks of 2012, sources tell AllThingsD's Mike Isaac. Like SnapChat, the rumored app would allow users to share short-lived photos with their friends. The one difference between the two apps, of course, is that instead Facebook's, which would stand alone like Camera and Messenger, can actually integrate with your Facebook friends and contacts, making it a lot more accessible to a lot more people.
The AllThingsD report comes a few weeks after Facebook launched a new Messenger app for Android that worked a lot like Whatsapp because it lets users sign up without a Facebook account or email address. The beauty of Whatsapp is that it allows people to send BBM-like messages to each other — even without compatible phones— and Facebook's Messages app offers that exact same flexibility. Rumor also had it that Facebook had taken interest in buying WhatsApp, which denied that. Facebook couldn't buy it, so it built it. See a pattern yet?
Though Facebook would rather acquire an already popular product (see: Instagram) sometimes, for various reasons, it doesn't work out like that (see: App.net). In which case, they might just have to build their own versions of the competition. With its big user base, Facebook must be hoping that loyal users of the original apps will migrate to their platform. Of course, loyalty sometimes trumps convenience.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.