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5 intriguing facts about Instagram’s Bolt launch

Rumors began circulating late last week that Instagram was readying the release of its Snapchat-competitor Bolt, but not until Tuesday did reps for the photo-sharing platform confirm that it had taken the app live in New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa.

The ephemeral messaging service lets you send a photo or video to a single recipient, which then self-destructs once it’s been read. So far, those who have been privy to its mechanics haven’t noticed a whole lot that differentiates it from apps on the market that already offer that service. Below we highlight a few of the most interesting nuggets we’ve gleaned from the media coverage surrounding Bolt’s soft launch.

1) New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa were selected “because they each feature high Instagram usage, deeply interconnected communities, high penetration of Android Ice Cream Sandwich, and speak English,” according to TechCrunch.

2) Before launch, some Instagram users noticed ads for Bolt within their photo stream. Speculation abounded that Bolt wasn’t actually real—the mysterious ads were thought to be tests of a new ad format hawking a fictional product.

3) This is Instagram’s foray into the ephemeral messaging market, a sensible business move from a content perspective. Snapchat turns out more than half a billion snaps per day, versus “only” 60 million photos posted to Instagram.

4) Instagram doesn’t mind that it’s not an innovator in this particular case—or even first to market. “When Instagram itself launched four years ago, we weren’t the first photo filter app,” a spokesman told The Verge. “Our tradition is that we look at a space and create a super simple, pretty experience to fit it.”

5) Bolt doesn’t require a Facebook login, instead letting users add contacts via phone numbers.

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