By Evan DeSimone
Facebook has given up the ghost on Slingshot, the ephemeral mobile messaging app it built to compete with fast growing Snapchat, according to a statement released by the social media giant.
The Slingshot app, which allowed users to share time-limited photo and video messages similar to those that made Snapchat a mobile sensation, has been pulled from the app store. The app will continue to function for the time being, but is likely to be phased out in the coming months. Also on the chopping block are group chat app Rooms and the video sharing app Riff, Slingshot siblings that were also created by the social network’s development unit, Facebook Creative Labs. Rather than send sending the Creative Labs team back to the drawing board, it appears Facebook will shut down the unit entirely.
While the apps themselves have been discontinued, a Facebook spokesperson indicated that elements of their underlying technology will be incorporated into the Facebook mobile app. For now Facebook will focus its video ambitions on projects like 360-degree video and its recently-launched mobile live streaming service designed to take on Twitter’s Periscope.
The rapid rise of Snapchat has inspired more than one imitator to try to challenge the social media darling. Even as Snapchat struggles to transition from a pure messaging app into a media platform through a series of big-name media partnerships, competitors are waiting in the wings to steal the app’s visual messaging thunder. Instagram famously launched its internal Bolt visual messaging service last summer in an effort to break Snapchat’s hold. More recently, AOL’s newly-acquired Kanvas app aims to split the difference between Snapchat and periscope with static image and video messaging, as well as live streaming features.