One of the early Facebook features that many people got to know was the “Poke” feature. It did not do much – it simply showed a notification on the receiver’s Facebook page. But here we are a few years later, and Facebook has finally given the Poke name something that is of actual use.
Facebook yesterday launched its new Poke app for iOS, which is incredibly simple to use. Just like an instant messenger, you click a friend’s name and start typing, or sending images and video. But Poke has stolen a page from Snapchat in that the message disappears after a pre-set time up to 10 seconds. The receiver also has to hold down the person’s name in order to see the message, which does make it a little more difficult to capture with a screenshot.*
What is also quite interesting about the Poke app is that Mark Zuckerburg was actually very involved in the coding and design of the app. One of the strange little parts of the Poke app is the notification noise – which is a heavily processed voice which says “Poke!”. You guessed it – that is Zuckerburg as well.
TechCrunch is reporting that Facebook was interested in purchasing SnapChat after seeing it “exploding” in popularity. After not being successful in buying Snapchat, the Facebook team started working on their own version, and completed the app in all of 12 days. Reason for the rush is that they wanted to launch in the Appstore before the Apple Christmas freeze period, and seeing as many people might be getting an iPhone 5 this holiday (and would like to fill it with the top apps), wanted all the attention of the Appstore. Smart.
That strategy payed off, and right now Poke is the number 1 app on the AppStore. The Facebook app on iOS also actively promoted the Poke app in the last 24 hours, so expect it in the top apps for a while. Snapchat meanwhile has dropped to number 8 in the listings, but we suspect it will drop further.
MG Siegler had the best observation of Facebook’s message to Snapchat: “Don’t want to come work with us? Fine, we’ll clone your service in a couple weeks and ship it to a billion users.”
If I was the developers behind Snapchat, I would be slightly miffed right now.
* If you do make a screenshot, the sender does get a notification just like Snapchat.