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It’s why the company first tried to acquire Snapchat, and, once rebuffed, invested heavily in cloning its most distinctive features.
Houseparty’s continued growth — it is currently a top 200 app in Apple’s US App Store, according to market research firm App Annie — all but guaranteed Facebook would explore copying it.
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Suites offer a living area, private bedroom and two HDTVs, and some have a kitchenette, dining table or whirlpool tub.
Should it overtake Houseparty, it would represent the second time in as many years that a Life On Air innovation is squashed by larger competitors.
(Houseparty declined to comment.) At the same time, Facebook’s track record with cloned products has been mixed.
Details about how Bonfire works could not be learned, though one person described it as essentially a clone of Houseparty.
If that’s the case, the launch of Bonfire could pose a significant challenge for Rubin’s team.
And while the company appears to have struck gold with Instagram stories, its refined take on Snapchat’s ephemeral public posts, similar products in the main Facebook app and in Facebook Messenger have generated little enthusiasm among users.
While details were scarce, one source said the app is designed to encourage younger people to communicate with their grandparents using video chat.
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The app took off among teenagers, and by November 2016 it had 1.2 million users spending 20 million minutes a day using it.
For Facebook, few competitive threats are as worrisome as a new social network growing quickly among teenagers.
The company’s founder, Ben Rubin, observed that most people never broadcasted more than a handful of times — whether on Meerkat or its eventual competitors, Facebook Live and Twitter-owned Periscope.