What goes by just as quickly as a snap? A wink. But they're not the same.
Where they are the same, however, is in social media and Viber is sending quite the "wink, wink" at Snapchat.
Viber's Wink is the messaging app's latest service that allows its users to send ephemeral messages just like in Snapchat. Actually, it's exactly like Snapchat.
In The Beginning, There Was Sexting
Snapchat started the disappearing messages craze back in 2011. The app initially took off as a way for teens to send "sext" messages and pictures because their content could only be viewed for as long as 1 to 30 seconds and no more. When the clock runs out, Snapchat "snaps" are said to be forever deleted.
The app has matured since then as respectable publishers and news outlets like National Geographic, People, MTV, and CNN have created "Discover" channels on the viral platform. Snapchat has grown so wildly just these past few years that it's already competing with Facebook at 4 billion daily video views.
Viber Snaps Snapchat
By comparison, Viber "only" has a little over 600 million registered users and has already been bought out by Japanese Internet company Rakuten for $900 million. Now that Viber has to make that money back and/or grow its userbase, it's now encroaching on Snapchat's territory.
One of the difference between the two is that Viber users have to go an extra step and download the Viber Wink app separately from the main Viber messaging app. Afterwards, the two similar apps will work in tandem to deliver a Snapchat-like messaging experience.
Other notable differences between Snapchat the trendsetter and Viber the copycat is that Wink lacks branded media channels like Snapchat. In addition, Snapchat allows its users to use "selfie lenses" which adds another interactive layer to the app that makes it even stickier with its users.
Moreover, while both apps are free to use, Snapchat is making money. It's not yet known how Viber will monetize any of its services beyond sticker sales.
Facebook Copied First
But, as they say, "Good artists copy, great artists steal." In the technology industry, it's not uncommon for one company to totally rip off a feature from a competitor and rebrand that feature as its own.
In fact, Facebook is notorious for this. The social media company, by far the largest and most pervasive of them all with over 1 billion active users worldwide, has taken the most successful parts of its competitors and made them its own.
But, they also say that the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and Facebook's regurgitated features have fallen hard.
For example, Facebook Deals was a service created to compete against Groupon. It was shut down after just four months. Facebook Inbox took a jab at Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft by offering users a "@facebook.com" email address. They shut that one down early this year after admitting people weren't using it anyway.
And, finally, Facebook Poke and Facebook Slingshot were the company's two — yes, they tried it twice — failed attempts at dethroning Snapchat. Poke disappeared after 17 months and while Slingshot surprisingly still exists, users say it's less easy to use than its rival.
When Facebook realized at last that it would be pointless to strike out against Snapchat for the third time, it opened up its treasure chest of cash and offered to buy it for $3 billion. Snapchat didn't even blink and continued on its merry way.
It's All About The Users: What They Say
Viber has its own war chest of cash as well, but it's probably banking on its messaging proficient user base to pick up on its Snapchat clone feature better than users did on Facebook. So far, it's getting mixed results.
One user review from Besim Mydyti pointed out a potential flaw in Viber's approach. "Do you remember when we used Windows Messenger, it was so simple and so fast. Then, Microsoft updated messenger with apps like games, news, big animated emoticons, screen sharing, etc... after the update nobody wanted these apps, everyone installed the old version.... So, Viber is trying to do the same thing, but there are many application like viber, people can change their VOIP application to another simple one," Mydyti said.
In the end, there can only be one Snapchat, one Facebook, one Instagram, and so on. As a user insightfully pointed out, the more one service attempts to become a one-stop-shop for everything, the greater its users will leave it for something else.
Ultimately, the biggest difference between Snapchat and Viber's Wink will be which will come out on top. If history is the measuring stick to determine which will be the last one standing, Viber has quite the uphill battle against Snapchat.