Snapchat launches web-based version of the popular messaging app to take on Zoom

Unlike many other social media platforms, Snapchat has been available only on mobile since its launch over a decade ago. But on Monday, the company launched a web-based version of the popular messaging app.

The goal is to give users the freedom to switch between their phones and computers, all while continuing their conversations on the platform. But the new desktop option could also help Snapchat take on a surprising rival: Zoom.

While Snapchat is known for letting users send disappearing chats and photos, called snaps, video calling has become a popular feature of the app, according to the company.

Snapchat said its app hosts more than 100 million video calls each month with up to 15 participants each. Now, it hopes that service will become easier and more pleasant to use when people join those calls from a desktop.

The idea is similar to video calling services such as Zoom which exploded in popularity during the pandemic, but with some selling points unique to Snapchat. Users will be able to initiate calls more quickly and easily because they’re already connected to friends and can see when others are online, according to the company.

To protect users’ safety and privacy, Snapchat for web prohibits users from taking screenshots of chats or snaps.

The launch comes as Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, has been pummeled on Wall Street after posting a larger than expected loss in its most recent earnings report and later warning investors that it had slashed its upcoming quarterly forecast due to a worsening economy. Shares of Snap, which is set to report second quarter earnings later this week, have tumbled 70% since the start of this year.

Last month, Snap introduced a new paid subscription service called Snapchat+ with the potential to boost its revenue. The web version may be a draw for the new, $3.99 per month subscription option.

At launch, the web-based version of Snapchat will be available to all users in Australia and New Zealand and to Snapchat+ users in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. The service will soon roll out to Snapchat+ subscribers in France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.