This week, Instagram rolled out Bolt, a new app that lets users record and send quick, unedited photo or video messages by tapping on a friend's photo. The message then disappears when you swipe your screen.
The app is currently only available to users in New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa. Instagram told The Verge that since 65 percent of Instagram users are based internationally, "we are starting with a handful of countries to make sure we can scale the experience."
Bolt is only the most recent offering of Snapchat-esque apps, a crowded slate that includes Wickr, a "top-secret messenger" that recently raised $30 million; Slingshot, an app created by Facebook that has a unique "I-send-you-send" stipulation ; and the Berlin-based one-click messaging app TapTalk.
TapTalk in particular seems to be a model that Bolt is aping, and in an interview with TechCrunch published yesterday, TapTalk CEO Onno Faber said "we know we have a great product, so clones don't come as a surprise."
Also not particularly thrilled about Instagram's entry into the market is a free phone-calling app called Bolt. On Monday, Bolt CEO Andrew Benton posted an open letter urging Instagram to reconsider using the name Bolt, saying it's already causing confusion for their customers.
"It wasn't too long ago that you were the little guy," Benton wrote. "I know you haven't forgotten how hard it is to build something from nothing. And not just technology, but a brand and distinct identity for yourself. Imagine how it would have felt if Google or Apple or Facebook had launched a photo-sharing app called Instagram in 2011."
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