- Image-messaging app Snapchat saw a surge in downloads and installs following a highly contested redesign to its user interface that sparked online protests and snarky remarks from social influencers. First-time installs jumped 55% week-over-week, or by 322,000, in the week following the redesign's rollout, according to data from Sensor Tower.
- Before the redesign went live earlier this month, the app almost fell out of the top 10 ranking of free iPhone apps for the fourth time since 2014, but the renewed interest in Snapchat pushed it back to the No. 5 spot on Tuesday, per Sensor Tower. A petition on Change.org calling for Snapchat to reverse the update had about 1.25 million supporters as of Tuesday evening.
- The news comes one week after reality TV star Kylie Jenner commented on the app via Twitter to her 24.5 million followers. Her viral message was partly blamed for causing parent company Snap to lose $1.3 billion of market value just hours after the tweet was shared. However, the app suddenly shot to No. 1 from No. 8 on the charts on the back of the commotion, according to App Annie data cited by TechCrunch.
The resurgence in Snapchat's app installs appear to support the old adage, "There is no such thing as bad publicity." The media coverage of the popular app's redesign and ensuing outrage spawned a succès de scandale as thousands of first-timers likely downloaded the app to see what all the fuss was about. CEO Evan Spiegel said at an investor conference this month that the company wouldn't revert back to the old format, while acknowledging that users would need time to get used to the new layout. The updates were intended to make the app easier to use for consumers by putting one-to-one messages and the popular Stories feature in the same place on the app. Stories strings several images and videos together in a single post that disappears after 24 hours.
Snapchat last week posted a letter in response to the Change.org petition that described additional tweaks to the app that claimed to make it easier to use. The company said it planned to add tabs in the Friends and Discover sections that would help users more intuitively access Stories. The letter also promised additional ways users could sort Stories, group chats and subscriptions to professionally produced content to help users customize the layout to meet their individual preferences.
The renewed interest in Snapchat may help the company restore some of the momentum it had after reporting improvements to several key metrics in Q4 2017, including a rise in daily active users that beat analysts' expectations by nearly 3 million people. While the company has yet to report a profit since going public a year ago, it saw annual ad revenue climb 74% between the end of 2017 and the year prior. The key challenges for Snapchat still are growing its user base and getting more advertisers onto its platform, though it's still unclear whether the social app can become a true alternative to Facebook and Google as a digital advertising giant in the months and years to come.