Musical.ly may be looking to push into yet another new space at the intersection of video social. Quietly launching a video messaging app called pingpong on the App Store several days ago, Musical.ly seems to be making a play at giving its user base of 100 million a new set of messaging tools that are likely bear a lot of similarity to Snapchat. Previously, Musical.ly launched a livestreaming app to much acclaim, live.ly.
Though the app is live in the App Store, Mashable and TechCrunch reported problems with signing up through the app. It’s unclear whether this was due to some kind of error or the fact that perhaps the app hasn’t officially launched yet. We managed to get through the signup process, though, so we took a look around.
On the surface, it’s something like an extremely pared down Snapchat. The screens are ultra simple and options are pretty limited: Add friends, send video messages. The app technically worked for us in that we were able to add friends and send messages, but it didn’t work terribly well, with botched videos, stalling, and freezing. It’s early days for the app, and the version log from App Annie shows that the app’s already been updated three times since it “launched” on February 9. The first update apparently “added funny face filters :D” while the following two addressed bugs.
Step 2: Once you log in, the home screen will appear. On this screen you can see a list of your friends as well as options to add friends and create groups.Step 3: Select a friend and click “tap to talk” to start a video message.From there, you can talk and use filters to create a video message!
Despite bugs and reported problems in signing up, pingpong marks Musical.ly’s intention to expand its growing ecosystem of video-focused apps. It comes on the heels of the release of Squad, another app from Musical.ly that allows groups to video chat with one another. In fact, pingpong has a group function that ostensibly lets users send messages (you guessed it) to groups.
Because signups have been inaccessible and may still be inaccessible to some, it’s difficult to know how many people are actually using the app. According to App Annie insights, since its release, its risen in rank from 1,305 to a peak of 700 on February 12 before dropping back down to 716 on February 13. If the app manages to rectify the signup and bug problems, pingpong may be able to tap into Musical.ly’s already massive user base, and bringing pingpong into the Musical.ly has the potential to strengthen Musical.ly’s position among teen audiences with a new offering.
Though it may not be terribly familiar for audiences who aren’t teens, Musical.ly is a pretty big deal in terms of the size of its user base. As of December 2016, Musical.ly had 40 million monthly active users, and while those aren’t exactly Snapchat numbers (Snapchat has an estimated 300+ million monthly active users), that’s a big audience.
Musical.ly itself lets users record and share videos of themselves lip-synching. TechCrunch likens it to Dubsmash, but notes that it has a more robust social platform. But Musical.ly didn’t stop at lip-synching. Its other apps — Live.ly, Squad, and now pingpong — signal a clear commitment to pushing social communications with video further within its own ecosystem.
We already know that Musical.ly’s large base had a major hand in boosting the popularity of its livestreaming app, Live.ly, which reportedly surpassed Twitter’s Periscope in monthly active users just three months after its launch with 4.6 million monthly active users to Twitter’s 4.3 million.
Musical.ly also doesn’t have the astronomical valuation numbers we’ve come to expect from the likes of Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat, but with a valuation of $500 million, Musical.ly certainly has a clearly defined space in the social network landscape.
Related Post: The Biggest Stats You Should Know About Musical.ly
Musical.ly isn’t the first on the video messaging scene by any means. Snapchat and Instagram (with its new features that closely mimic Snapchat’s Stories capabilities) stand out as the most notable, but pingpong’s already drawn comparisons to Houseparty, a group live video messaging platform from the minds behind the now-defunct Meerkat.
It’s hard to imagine something like pingpong dethroning Snapchat outright, given Snapchat’s massive audience share, but it’s worth noting that competition has made things hard for Snapchat in the last few months. Following the introduction of Instagram Stories, Snapchat saw a sudden slowing of its previously reliable growth. Ahead of Snapchat’s IPO, the growth stall has proven something of a concern, and if pingpong manages to capture the interest of some of Snapchat’s young audience, Snapchat may see further flatlining in growth.
The introduction of pingpong is further evidence of a growing trend in video messaging. Snapchat may have been the first app to break out with meteoric success, but as apps like Instagram echo those video messaging features and new apps like Squad and pingpong crop up alongside them, it’s clear that video messaging is becoming an increasingly pivotal part of the social landscape that’s attracting a lot of interest from young audiences in particular.
Whether or not pingpong manages to carve itself a place in this deeply competitive corner of the social networking landscape remains to be seen, but the fact that more and more apps are adding or being created around video messaging capabilities is very telling — the video messaging trend is going to be sticking around for awhile.