Today Snap revealed that it now has 166 million daily users — 34 million fewer than Facebook’s Snapchat clone, Instagram Stories.
Let’s recap how this happened: Facebook launched Instagram Stories in August 2016, a completely transparent effort to rip off the formula that made Snapchat a success (and slow down Snapchat’s growth in the process). Facebook’s attempts to copy Snapchat usually fail — Poke, Slingshot, etc. — but Instagram Stories took off.
Investors were sweating over Snap’s growth last month after Facebook said Instagram Stories had reached 200 million users — way above the 158 million users Snapchat had in December. Now it looks like they had good reason to worry. Going into the second quarter of 2017, Instagram Stories is both bigger than and growing faster than Snapchat.
Snapchat hitting 158 million users in 2016 was significant (the service grew 48 percent in one year), but the app’s growth significantly slowed down by the end of the year. Snapchat added 5 million users in Q4 2016, and just a little more in Q1 2017 (8 million). Compared to early 2016, this growth rate sucks, and the change correlates with the rise of Instagram Stories.
The trend makes Facebook look invincible, and it makes Snap look like Twitter. Investors aren’t happy about it — Facebook’s plan worked.