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— Blog

Social Mobility and the Coming Data Explosion

Michael Peterson, Product Manager, Analytics
August 9, 2017

Snap’s IPO made headlines earlier this year, from Wall Street to Silicon Valley. The instant video messaging and augmented reality app has been touted as the next big thing in social apps and some experts see it making a Facebook-like rise to prominence. Regardless of how successful the company becomes, we can learn a few things about social mobility and the coming data explosion from the fanfare surrounding its IPO and the general functionality of its product.

Snap, Inc. is the company best known for its primary product, Snapchat. Snapchat is a video messaging app where users send 2.5 billion snaps per day. Content-wise, that’s about on par with Facebook. Up until recently, Snapchat was able to differentiate itself from similar products by focusing on augmented reality, providing different filters that users can apply to make their image look cartoonish in various ways. But now we’re seeing other companies follow suit, like the addition of similar augmented reality face filters now available on Instagram. Most users don’t know how much of their phone’s data is consumed by producing and sending these types of images. But, from the data storage side of things, it’s clear that an increase in this kind of digital activity has big implications for storage providers.

Snap has already made major cloud commitments, to the tune of $3 billion over the next few years. They have a plan to ramp up usage year after year, and are on the hook for every bit of the $3 billion, even if they don’t use all of that capacity. That displays a great deal of confidence that, even if their user base doesn’t massively increase, engagement with the app and creation of data will.

The functionality of Snapchat and similar apps is only getting more sophisticated, creating more data at each step of the way. Facebook has its own dedicated data centers to house all of the photo and video that is uploaded to its app. What Snapchat creates is also photo and video, but usually with an extra layer on top of it (the previously mentioned augmented reality filters). It’s clear that Snapchat and similar apps are going to require lots of storage capacity.

Mobile devices are now part of society’s fabric, but Snap’s Spectacles show that wearables will continue to create massive amounts of social data, as well. Spectacles essentially function as a wearable extension of the app and work similarly to police body cameras. But these are only one of many categories of wearable, data producing products that are starting to populate the marketplace.

So, whether or not Snap, Inc. ends up being a unicorn for its investors isn’t really the point. Regardless of what happens with its business, the circumstances surrounding Snap’s headline-grabbing IPO have big implications for those in the world of data storage and cloud services. That’s because the prevalence and sophistication of these types of data-creating apps is only growing in stature. Businesses may not need to spend billions on cloud services, but they will need to form partnerships that enable them to collect and harness the data they create in the most efficient way possible. Learn about Digital Realty’s cloud ecosystem.

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