Snapchat introduced its first in-app purchase Tuesday, offering users three replays of otherwise self-destructing messages for $0.99.
The feature joins video ads, location-themed digital sticker ads and some merchandise sales as the Venice start-up's revenue sources. Snapchat, one of the most highly valued private companies in the world, has hundreds of millions of users and expects tens of millions of dollars in revenue this year.
An update to the app launching Tuesday also provides new "lenses" for taking a selfie through the app, including silly, scary and weird digital sketches that automatically decorate tongues, teeth and eyes. Lens options, which rotate daily, can be found by holding down on the front-facing photo capture screen.
The technology behind Lenses came from San Francisco start-up Looksery Inc., which Snapchat acquired. The company declined to say when it completed the deal or how much it spent.
Users may also pull down a special menu from the top of the photo-taking screen in the app to see small trophies celebrating different uses of the app.
Apparently, Snapchat believes it must keep its product fun in the minds of its teenage and millennial users. And it's possible that advertisers could eventually pay to sponsor lenses and trophies. But it's the new purchase option in the U.S. that could have an immediate, tangible impact as Snapchat tries to grow into the $15-billion market-capitalization company that investors have bet it is.
Snapchat has allowed one replay a day of its original feature — short photo and video messages, sent between contacts, that disappear after one view. Buying three extra replays means users can re-watch more messages, though a single incoming Snapchat can be replayed only once.
Allowing a single replay a day of only one thing frustrated "the millions of Snapchatters who receive many daily Snaps deserving of a Replay," Snapchat said on its blog. "But then we realized — a Replay is like a compliment! So why stop at just one. ... They’re a little pricey — but time is money!"
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