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The Game of Facebook’s Slingshot

Facebook does its best to stay current and relevant with today’s digital users and their ever-evolving interests. After failing to acquire Snapchat back in 2013, Facebook has tried a few more times to purchase Snapchat, as well as to release apps such as Poke, Paper, and Slingshot to maintain its relevance among apps like Snapchat. However, apps like Poke, Paper, and Slingshot have proven to be flops – and now the question is, if Facebook can continue to maintain a competitive edge over other successful companies like Snapchat.

Slingshot is similar to Snapchat in that it allows users to send pictures back and forth between each other. The main difference is that in Slingshot, users can send pictures first to “unlock” other incoming photos from other senders. Slingshot is similar enough to Snapchat, but also appeared to have some advantages to it – or so it seems.¬†According to the article, Facebook’s Slingshot was likely to fail, not because the app was particularly better, different, or similar to Snapchat, but because of Facebook itself. The article suggests that Facebook might have been trying to capture a younger audience that had already wandered away from the Facebook platform. Facebook’s attempts with this demographic have proven useless and unsuccessful, in the past, with other apps. The same was yet to be seen for Slingshot (but has since then, resulted in a similar unsuccessful outcome).

As detailed in the article below, “Is Facebook’s Slingshot Third Time’s a Charm or Strike Three?”, this situation can be formulated as a game, with Facebook and a competitor, which in this case, will be Snapchat. How/if Facebook attempts to create apps that compete with Snapchat can provoke reactions in Snapchat that will increase competition between Facebook and Snapchat, result in one company significantly overtaking the other, have no effect, or more. For example, when Facebook was making the decision to release Slingshot, it must have taken into account the payoffs of releasing the app, and not. This game would involve the players, Facebook and Snapchat. Facebook’s two moves would be to either release Slingshot, or not release Slingshot, whereas Snapchat may have been considering moves such as whether to release new features, which may or may not be in response to Facebook’s attempts, especially if Facebook’s Slingshot was particularly successful and jeopardized Snapchat’s performance. Then, it would make sense for Snapchat to try to innovate and beat out Slingshot. However, innovating and releasing new features before Snapchat is ready, could also result in a rushed product release and weak performance for Snapchat.

Generally, it seems that anytime a new app arises that could increase the competition between Facebook and Snapchat, both companies must consider their dominant strategies, if they have any, and determine and hopefully pursue the Nash equilibrium that results in the best payoff for both companies.




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October 2014