Can “Lapse,” a Fresh Photo App, Make its Mark in an Instagram-Dominated Market?

The Rise of Lapse

Lapse, a new photo app, has recently emerged as a contender in the highly competitive social media landscape. With its tagline “friends not followers,” Lapse aims to create a social media experience free from the pressure of gaining approval from strangers. The app, which initially launched in 2021 and recently reemerged, has quickly climbed to the No. 2 spot on the Apple App Store’s free chart in the United States.

A Blast from the Past

Similar to Dispo, another popular photo-sharing platform, Lapse encourages users to capture photos in the same way they did during the analog era when disposable cameras were popular. Users take photos within the app and “develop” them, mimicking the process of waiting for printed photos. After a few hours, users can choose to share their photos with their Lapse friends or keep them private in their archive. Notably, all photos posted on Lapse must be taken within the app and cannot be altered in any way, ensuring authenticity and spontaneity. Rather than displaying visible “like” counts, Lapse allows friends to react to photos using emojis.

The Founders and Vision

Lapse was founded by brothers Dan and Ben Silvertown, with funding from GV (formerly Google Ventures). The app aims to fill the gap between large social media platforms like TikTok and the intimate privacy of group chats. Dan Silvertown explains that there is a significant space in the middle that was once occupied by other social networks and is now open for Lapse to capture.

The Nostalgia Factor

For many users, Lapse’s appeal lies in its ability to evoke a sense of nostalgia. Maria Rendon, a frequent Instagram user from Woodbridge, Va., appreciates how Lapse recreates a film-like appearance for her photos. She believes that many new apps are striving to recapture the simplicity of early photo-based platforms like Instagram, before they evolved into multifaceted social networks.

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A Casual Space for Sharing

Other users, such as Ann-Abele Blassingame, a graduate student in Greeley, Colo., view Lapse as a more casual platform for sharing photos. While they use Instagram as a marketing tool for their artwork, they turn to Lapse for a more laid-back sharing experience.

The Invitation-Only Approach

Access to Lapse is currently limited to invitation only. Newcomers must invite five people to join the app before they can start posting. While this growth tactic has been successful in propelling Lapse up the Apple app chart, it has also received some criticism. Concerns have been raised regarding how user phone numbers might be utilized. Lapse’s website assures users that the company does not sell user data, but some potential users remain cautious.

The Uncertain Future

While Lapse’s rapid rise in popularity is undeniable, the question remains whether it can sustain this momentum in the long run. Users like Ms. Rendon and Mx. Blassingame are unsure if they will continue using the app extensively. Mx. Blassingame has encountered a few technical glitches on the platform, although they were promptly resolved. Feedback and complaints like these are often shared through Lapse’s Instagram account, allowing users to directly communicate their concerns to the app’s developers.

Lapse’s attempt to compete in an Instagram-dominated world is no easy feat. However, with its unique approach and emphasis on simplicity and authenticity, the app has managed to capture the attention of users seeking a break from the pressures and complexities of larger social media platforms.

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