Mark Zuckerberg believes Facebook has leapfrogged Snapchat in the race to provide visual communication thanks to the launch of Facebook’s augmented reality Camera Effects platform. On today’s strong earnings call after Facebook beat estimates in Q1 2017, Zuckerberg said (emphasis mine):
“I think we were a little bit late to the trend initially around making cameras the center of how sharing works. But I do think at this point we’re pretty much ahead in terms of the technology that we’re building, and making an open platform I think is a big step forward. A lot of people are using these products across our family of apps. And I would expect us to continue leading the way forward on this from this point on.”
Meanwhile, when asked about monetizing augmented reality, Zuckerberg described how he imagines that one day you’ll be able to point the Facebook app’s camera at an object, the app will recognize what it is, and you could then see buy button pop up. For now though, Facebook isn’t allowing any unauthorized advertising, logos, branding, or commerce experiences on its AR platform.
Zuckerberg’s comments today mesh with what he told TechCrunch in an interview ahead of Facebook’s F8 conference last month. In response to criticism about copying Snapchat, he said “I guess I’m not that worried about that,” Mark Zuckerberg said in response to criticism about Facebook copying Snapchat . . .The first chapter that made sense was to release products that people were familiar with . . . but the unique thing that we’re going to do is we’re not just going to build basic cameras, we’re going to build the first mainstream augmented reality platform.”
This platform means Facebook will enlist the help of outside developers to build AR content for users, rather than trying to build them all itself. That could let Facebook offer thousands of different AR selfie filters, make-believe objects, and interactive experiences while Snapchat currently only shows around 20.
We’ll have more analysis soon.