Snap just made its IPO public: Here are 5 reasons why you should care

snapchat snap ipo highlights spectacles pop up store nyc
Snapchat developer Snap Inc. made its initial public offering (IPO) available to the public through the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday — along with some fascinating data on the company itself.

While the document is geared toward prospective investors who could help Snap raise an expected $3 billion, it’s also packed with interesting information about the popular visual messaging app and its parent company.

We poured through the lengthy filing to identify the most relevant information for general users and readers, from illustrated guidelines on how to use Snapchat to acknowledgements about the app’s shortcomings.

To find out more about Snap’s financials and user numbers, check out our news piece on its IPO here.

Spectacles could soon be a lot easier to purchase

Snap’s video-recording sunglasses were released to much fanfare last year. To capitalize on that buzz, the company is planning to make it easier for you to get your hands on the $130 wearable.

Snap says it will “significantly broaden the distribution of Spectacles” in 2017. Currently, the device is only available via a vending machine that appears in random locations for the span of 24 hours. Customers can find out its whereabouts via the Spectacles website, and then queue up in the hopes they can grab the wearable before the limited stock runs out.

snapchat spectacles on ebay

“We expect to continue to make substantial investments in inventory, marketing, [and] distribution,” promises Snap. Whether it will ditch its unconventional retail method remains to be seen (it could always just roll out more vending machines). In the past, the company has also sold the device via a pop-up shop, indicating that it could take a brick-and-mortar approach, opening up more stores throughout the year. Whatever the case, one thing’s for sure: more Spectacles are on the way.

Snap also claims that it will pour investment into “product innovation.” Could Spectacles be in for an upgrade in 2017? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Snap admits Snapchat isn’t optimized for Android

In its IPO, Snap reveals that its app is used primarily on iPhones. As a result of this higher engagement on iOS, the company claims it has “prioritized” the development of Snapchat to operate with the Apple operating system, rather than Android.

Users of Google’s OS have long claimed that the Snapchat experience on Android devices (from the likes of Samsung, LG, and HTC) was lacking, particularly in regard to app speed, mobile video, and photo quality. Now we know why.

Seeing as Android holds more than 86 percent of the worldwide smartphone OS market, according to data from tech research firm Gartner, Snapchat’s oversight could cost it dearly. It’s a risk the company concedes in its IPO: “If we are unable to improve operability of our products on smartphones with Android operating systems, and those smartphones become more popular and fewer people use smartphones with iOS operating systems, our business could be seriously harmed.”

Can’t figure out Snapchat, consult its annotated diagrams

If you’re having trouble getting to grips with Snapchat, now you can consult the source for a helpful illustrated guideline. Whereas Snap tends to provide quick instructions to its app updates on its website, it has thus far steered clear from providing a detailed explanation of its app.

With the company set to go public in March, however, it’s now having to explain its flagship product to investors who may not be acquainted with Snapchat — outside of knowing that it’s the most buzzed-about tech property in recent memory. After all, even to this day, Snapchat remains the domain of younger users (teens and millennials make up the majority of its user base).

Tucked away in its IPO is the closest Snap has ever come to providing an in-depth user manual for its app, which sees it break down each section of Snapchat. Check it out above — and, before you know it, you’ll be familiar with stories, lenses, geofilters, Memories, and the other main functions the app has to offer.

Snap’s origins contain as much drama as The Social Network

snapchat-ceo-evan-spiegel
Snap CEO Evan Spiegel pictured in 2014.

Somebody get Aaron Sorkin on the phone. Snap’s trials and tribulations en route to an expected $25 billion valuation could make for a thrilling Hollywood film.

The company reveals in its IPO that it settled a lawsuit with an individual who was suing its predecessor entity to the tune of $157.5 million. That person was Snapchat co-founder Reggie Brown.

A quick history lesson: Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and his Stanford University chums Bobby Murphy (Snap’s current CTO) and Reggie Brown developed a short-lived app called “Picaboo,” which let users share disappearing photos. The product was later rebranded to Snapchat, as its original title was already taken, by which point Brown was no longer part of the picture.

In his lawsuit, Brown alleged he had proposed the idea for sharing temporal photos to Spiegel and had designed the company’s now-iconic ghost logo. Despite initially stating the accusations were baseless, Snapchat was later forced to backtrack when settling the suit in 2014 (the details of which remained confidential until now). “We acknowledge Reggie’s contribution to the creation of Snapchat and appreciate his work in getting the application off the ground,” said Spiegel at the time.

Snap lists Apple as a rival, but Instagram is the bigger threat

One of the more surprising statements in Snap’s IPO is that the company views Apple as a competitor. Among its other, more obvious rivals (including Facebook, Twitter, and Japanese messaging app Line), Snap also lists the Cupertino, California-based tech giant as one of its “larger, more established” threats.

Despite not making any specific references to Apple’s products, it is likely that Snap is indicating that iMessage and FaceTime could be direct rivals to its visual messaging app. Apple’s messaging service expanded in a major way with the release of iOS 10, adding playful elements such as stickers, the ability to doodle messages, and a native GIF search engine.

Snap also claims that Apple could impede its growth by “modifying existing hardware and software on which the Snapchat application operates.” Now that we know that the app is more widely used on iOS, any changes to that OS that affect the usability of Snapchat would be a critical setback.

Unsurprisingly, Instagram too is listed as a threat. Snap even mentions the fact that Instagram plagiarized its Stories feature in August of last year. Instagram’s near identical take on the social-sharing function currently racks up an impressive 150 million daily view count. Add to that the 600 million monthly users that use the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app, and you have a very large obstacle standing in the way of Snapchat’s future growth.

Social Media

Snapchat facial recognition could soon power a new portrait mode, code suggests

Digging into Snapchat's code suggests a handful of upcoming camera features, including a portrait mode. The feature appears to use facial recognition A.I. to blur the background. The code also suggests an updated camera interface.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Mobile

Santa Claus is coming to town. Get ready with these Christmas apps

Like it or not, Christmas comes but once a year. Thankfully, we've got a list of the best Christmas apps to help get you into the holiday spirit, just in case you want to call Santa or become a Christmas elf.
Mobile

Apple iPad Pro 11 vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab S4: Which top-tier tablet reigns supreme?

If you're in the market for a new tablet and you want something that can double up as a laptop in a pinch, then you owe it to yourself to check out the 11-inch Apple iPad Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4. We compare the two here.
Social Media

This event topped Facebook’s biggest moments of the year — again

As the year comes to a close, Facebook is looking back on what users discussed most over the last year. For two years in a row, International Women's Day topped the list. So what else is on the list?
Social Media

This band owns Twitter, according to list of top accounts and tweets for 2018

What was the biggest buzz on Twitter in 2018? Twitter's 2018 Year in Review highlights the biggest tweets, accounts, and hashtags. The most-tweeted celebrities, movies, TV shows, athletes, politicians and more in Twitter's 2018 trends.
Social Media

What do yodeling and Kylie Jenner have in common? YouTube’s top 2018 videos

In a true nod to the variety found on YouTube, the platform's top 10 list of videos from 2018 range from celebrities to sports, from perfectly tossing a picture frame on the wall to a kid yodeling in aisle 12 at Walmart.
Home Theater

It took Tom Cruise to raise awareness of this troublesome TV setting

Tom Cruise, in an unexpected PSA tweet, asks you to turn off motion interpolation on your TV, but stops short of how to do it. Here's more on the topic, along with links to a guide on how to rid your TV of the dreaded "soap opera effect."
Computing

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier today than ever, but choosing the right tool for the job isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our two favorite online tools.
Business

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Computing

Google+ continues to sink with a second massive data breach. Abandon ship now

Google+ was scheduled to shut its doors in August 2019, but the second security breach in only a few months has caused the company to move its plan forward a few months. It might be a good idea to delete your account sooner than later.
Social Media

Walkie-talkie voice messaging finally comes to Instagram

In its latest grab from messaging apps, Instagram now lets you send walkie-talkie style voice messages. Apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and iMessage have offered the feature for some time.
Social Media

‘YouTube Rewind 2018’ is about to become its most disliked video ever

YouTube is about to achieve a record it really doesn't want — that of "most-disliked video." Yes, its annual recap of featuring popular YouTubers has gone down really badly this year.
Social Media

GIF almost anywhere with Giphy’s new keyboard and sticker maker

We all love GIFs, but not every app supports them. Fortunately, the new Giphy' keyboard brings GIFs to any iOS app that supports multimedia. The update also comes with a new tool for creating animated stickers.