Facebook has been looking to replicate Snapchat’s success with Gen Y and Z for years: they launched two clone apps - Poke and Slingshot- which failed and were shut down, tried to buy Snapchat in 2013 for $3B, and not long ago copied Snapchat’s popular Stories feature in Instagram. Now Facebook is taking the battle to new ground, attempting to leapfrog Snapchat in an area they aren’t already dominant in: emerging markets.
Facebook’s first attempt to plant the flag involved an unsuccessful bid to acquire Snow, an Asian Snapchat clone from Navar, but they’ve now launched their own Snapchat clone - Flash - which will be soft launched in Brazil before it expands to other markets.
Flash is an Android lite app less than 25M in size, which was crafted especially for emerging markets dealing with connectivity and bandwidth issues. Facebook has good reason to believe this approach will work - given their success with Facebook Lite in emerging markets. By luring in users with a lite version of an app, Facebook has more chance of retaining their loyalty and engagement as their markets mature. If Facebook succeeds with Flash, Snapchat may find that when they’re ready to go after users in emerging markets, they’ll face much stronger competition than they are used to.