By Seth Fitzgerald / CIO Today. Updated May 14, 2014.
Yahoo has purchased a Snapchat-like private messaging app called Blink and apparently plans to integrate the technology that powers it rather than keeping Blink itself on the market. Although Blink has been around since April 2013, it only has around 10,000 downloads on Google Play compared to Snapchat's 50 million, which may be the reason the Blink Android and iOS apps will be shut down over the next several weeks.
The core features of Blink are very much similar to Snapchat as the mobile app includes self-destructing picture, video, and text messages. While it may not be popular itself, the Blink team's technology could easily be integrated into a current or future Yahoo service like Messenger.
A Less Popular Snapchat
With a few exceptions, Blink is basically a less popular alternative to Snapchat. Until recently, Snapchat had only worked with picture messages but a major update provided video and text capabilities, something that Blink has included since its inception. Both Snapchat and Blink are allegedly secure and private, even though the latter may not actually be true for Snapchat, according to a recent settlement with the FTC.
For people who truly care about privacy, the technology behind Blink may be a better option since the FTC has found that messages sent through Snapchat don't actually disappear forever. On the other hand, the Blink team said, "All your stuff is encrypted from the moment you create it until the timer runs out and it disappears forever."
The core privacy feature offered by Blink is the ability for messages to disappear. Users are able to choose how long the recipient will have access to a message before it self-destructs, although this does not prevent someone from taking a screenshot.
Looking for Privacy
Yahoo's acquisition of Blink is just one more example of how the private messaging industry has been growing in recent months. Snapchat, Chadder, Wickr, and many others all promise to secure messages and prevent people on the outside from seeing them.
There are also two sides to the private messaging market. One side deals with everyday privacy and includes Snapchat and Blink, whereas the other side is focused on preventing hackers or government agencies from spying on communications. While the target market for the apps may vary, the private messaging market as a whole is overflowing with applications.
At the core of any of these apps is the idea that when two people are communicating, only the individuals directly involved should ever see the picture, video, or text that is being sent. Taking all third-party messaging apps into consideration, it is easy to see that privacy-driven programs come out on top. Network traffic specialist Sandvine released a report Wednesday showing that Snapchat is the most popular third-party messaging app in North America.
As Yahoo continues to make its push toward mobile by expanding the functionality of various applications in its suite, it is not surprising that Blink has been snatched up along the way.