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Snap tests Snapchat Plus, a paid tier for special features and experiments

·3-min read

Snapchat is testing a paid subscription tier for its social network called Snapchat Plus (or Snapchat+), which would give users early access to experimental features like pinning certain conversations and exclusive icons.

The company hasn't specified what exact benefits Snapchat Plus users would have, nor where it would be rolling it out. Our questions about these details only received a generic statement in response:

"We’re doing early internal testing of Snapchat Plus, a new subscription service for Snapchatters. We’re excited about the potential to share exclusive, experimental, and pre-release features with our subscribers, and learn more about how we can best serve our community," a company spokesperson said.

It's not clear how Snapchat will differentiate between what's presented to Snapchat Plus subscribers -- who are paying for the privilege of using experimental and pre-release features -- and those who are part of Snapchat's existing beta program, which is free (as most beta testing normally is).

But we might have some details about Snapchat Plus, thanks to app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi. In a series of tweets, he noted that the subscription will cost €4.59 ($4.82) per month or €45.99 ($48.32) per year.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

This will unlock features like a special badge, pinning a profile as your #1 BFF so you can quickly send Snaps or chat with them, exclusive Snapchat icons, and seeing how many friends have rewatched your story in the last 24 hours. What's more, if your friends have enabled their location sharing, you can take a look at their whereabouts in the last 24 hours.

Snapchat will have to clarify how it's storing this information, as this feature sounds like a privacy nightmare if someone gets hold of the data.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

As the company's Q1 results suggested, Snap is growing subscribers faster currently than Facebook and Twitter. However, the firm wants to bolster its revenues, too. In April, it announced a new tool for retailers to turn their photos into AR objects and later integrate them with Snapchat's own shopping experience. It also launched Lens Cloud, a server-side technology stack for developers to build multiuser experiences. The new subscription service could be one more piece of the puzzle that lets them earn more money.

Snapchat's not the only social network trying to boost its revenues through subscriptions. Last year, Twitter launched its paid plan called Twitter Blue, first in Australia and Canada, and later in the U.S. and New Zealand. Messaging app Telegram is also gearing up to launch its own subscription service this month. Google Photos also offers exclusive filters and effects to Google One subscribers.

For many years, these apps focused on user growth while offering their services for free, relying on ad money and partnerships. As more restrictions get placed on how ads can be delivered and what data they can collect -- and users get increasingly annoyed with the encroaching "you are the product" approach that comes with so much of adtech -- these platforms are trying to find more avenues to make money. Asking users to pay for premium features seems to be becoming an increasingly attractive option in those cases.

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