First developed by Snapchat and then quickly adopted by other leading social networks, the “stories” format is about customizable photos and videos that remain on a platform for only a short amount of time.
Instagram Stories follows this popular format – however, its users are also constrained by the slow pace of development and a limited number of tools.
This is where several former Instagram employees who worked as lead developers on the platform's Stories and Boomerang now hope to step in with their own startup.
Chroma Stories is an iOS app for advanced photo and video editing. It gives users a far greater selection of tools for creating their content, that can then be posted on Instagram or Facebook Stories, Snapchat, or saved and shared to messaging apps such as WhatsApp.
The way Chroma Stories tries to tap into the giants' market share is by giving users a large number of filters, themes, templates, fonts, features like video trimming and dynamic motion, and backgrounds from the free stock image site Unsplash. The app is offered free for 150 templates and 20 fonts, while subscription is required for unlimited access to all features.
Providing more creative freedom is not the only thing that differentiates Chroma Stories from Instagram/Facebook – its business model relies on subscriptions, rather than advertising and time users spend on a platform. The startup's co-founders have pledged not to introduce ads in the future, either.
One of these co-founders, Alex Li, told CNN that social networks are now based on a business model that is “not well aligned with the people using it and the people providing the service,” and that their company steers clear of that.
Should Instagram decide to “borrow” some of these new features and incorporate them into its own product – the startup said they would fight back by staying one step ahead – capitalizing on the ability to move development quickly compared to an established behemoth, and keep introducing new features.
There are other apps in this general space that aim to provide Instagram alternatives – such as VSCO – for those enthusiastic about the concept itself, but unhappy with the direction Facebook's image-sharing giant has been taking, creatively or otherwise.