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Mapped: Drone Privacy Laws Around the World

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Drone Privacy Laws infographic

Mapped: Drone Privacy Laws Around the World

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From Olympic opening ceremonies to public safety, drone applications have come a long way.

In fact, their modern applications are set to almost double the total value of the commercial drone market from $22.5 billion to $42.8 billion between 2020-2025, at a 13.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

Naturally, such diverse and complex uses can go quickly awry if not monitored and regulated correctly by governments—yet in some cases, it’s because of governments that drones’ uses border on sinister.

This in-depth map from Surfshark explores the murky guidelines surrounding drone privacy laws around the world, and some case studies of how they’re used in every region.

How Are Drone Privacy Laws Classified?

According to the map researchers, drone and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) regulations typically fall into one of the following buckets:

  1. Outright ban
  2. Effective ban
  3. Visual line of sight required
    Pilots need to be able to see the drones at all times, and must usually obtain a license or permit
  4. Experimental visual line of sight
    Pilots can let the drone fly outside their field of vision e.g. during a race
  5. Restrictions apply
    Drones need to be registered, and/or additional observers are required
  6. Unrestricted
    When drones are flown around private property and airports, and under 500 feet (150 meters)
  7. No drone-related legislation

Categories are assigned based on legislation as of October 2020.

Clearly, there is some overlap among these categories. They are highly dependent on judgment calls made by specific legal authorities, and change based on what a drone is being used for.

Explore the drone privacy laws in your specific country here:

Country/TerritoryContinentDrone Legal Status (Oct. 2020)
AfghanistanAsiaUnrestricted
AlbaniaEuropeNo drone-related legislation
AlgeriaAfricaOutright ban
AndorraEuropeVisual line of sight required
AngolaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
Antigua and BarbudaNorth AmericaExperimental visual line of sight
ArgentinaSouth AmericaUnrestricted
ArmeniaEuropeNo drone-related legislation
ArubaNorth AmericaVisual line of sight required
AustraliaOceaniaExperimental visual line of sight
AustriaEuropeUnrestricted
AzerbaijanEuropeVisual line of sight required
Bahamas, TheNorth AmericaUnrestricted
BahrainAsiaNo drone-related legislation
BangladeshAsiaUnrestricted
BarbadosNorth AmericaOutright ban
BelarusEuropeNo drone-related legislation
BelgiumEuropeVisual line of sight required
BelizeNorth AmericaEffective ban
BeninAfricaNo drone-related legislation
BermudaNorth AmericaVisual line of sight required
BhutanAsiaEffective ban
BoliviaSouth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
Bosnia and HerzegovinaEuropeNo drone-related legislation
BotswanaAfricaVisual line of sight required
BrazilSouth AmericaVisual line of sight required
Brunei DarussalamAsiaOutright ban
BulgariaEuropeEffective ban
Burkina FasoAfricaNo drone-related legislation
BurundiAfricaNo drone-related legislation
Cabo VerdeAfricaVisual line of sight required
CambodiaAsiaNo drone-related legislation
CameroonAfricaVisual line of sight required
CanadaNorth AmericaExperimental visual line of sight
Cayman IslandsNorth AmericaExperimental visual line of sight
Central African RepublicAfricaNo drone-related legislation
ChadAfricaUnrestricted
ChileSouth AmericaVisual line of sight required
ChinaAsiaExperimental visual line of sight
ColombiaSouth AmericaVisual line of sight required
ComorosAfricaNo drone-related legislation
Congo, Dem. Rep.AfricaNo drone-related legislation
Congo, Rep.AfricaNo drone-related legislation
Costa RicaNorth AmericaVisual line of sight required
Cote d'IvoireAfricaOutright ban
CroatiaEuropeVisual line of sight required
CubaNorth AmericaOutright ban
CuracaoNorth AmericaVisual line of sight required
CyprusEuropeVisual line of sight required
Czech RepublicEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
DenmarkEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
DjiboutiAfricaNo drone-related legislation
DominicaNorth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
Dominican RepublicNorth AmericaVisual line of sight required
EcuadorSouth AmericaVisual line of sight required
Egypt, Arab Rep.AfricaEffective ban
El SalvadorNorth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
Equatorial GuineaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
EritreaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
EstoniaEuropeUnrestricted
EthiopiaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
Faroe IslandsEuropeUnrestricted
FijiOceaniaVisual line of sight required
FinlandEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
FranceEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
GabonAfricaNo drone-related legislation
Gambia, TheAfricaNo drone-related legislation
GeorgiaEuropeVisual line of sight required
GermanyEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
GhanaAfricaExperimental visual line of sight
GibraltarEuropeEffective ban
GreeceEuropeUnrestricted
GreenlandNorth AmericaVisual line of sight required
GrenadaNorth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
GuamOceaniaUnrestricted
GuatemalaNorth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
GuineaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
Guinea-BissauAfricaNo drone-related legislation
GuyanaSouth AmericaExperimental visual line of sight
HaitiNorth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
HondurasNorth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
Hong Kong SAR, ChinaAsiaVisual line of sight required
HungaryEuropeUnrestricted
IcelandEuropeVisual line of sight required
IndiaAsiaVisual line of sight required
IndonesiaAsiaVisual line of sight required
Iran, Islamic Rep.AsiaOutright ban
IraqAsiaOutright ban
IrelandEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
IsraelAsiaVisual line of sight required
ItalyEuropeVisual line of sight required
JamaicaNorth AmericaVisual line of sight required
JapanAsiaExperimental visual line of sight
JordanAsiaUnrestricted
KazakhstanEuropeNo drone-related legislation
KenyaAfricaEffective ban
KiribatiOceaniaNo drone-related legislation
Korea, Dem. People’s Rep.AsiaNo drone-related legislation
Korea, Rep.AsiaVisual line of sight required
KosovoEuropeVisual line of sight required
KuwaitAsiaOutright ban
Kyrgyz RepublicAsiaOutright ban
Lao PDRAsiaUnrestricted
LatviaEuropeUnrestricted
LebanonAsiaNo drone-related legislation
LesothoAfricaNo drone-related legislation
LiberiaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
LibyaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
LiechtensteinEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
LithuaniaEuropeVisual line of sight required
LuxembourgEuropeVisual line of sight required
Macao SAR, ChinaAsiaVisual line of sight required
MadagascarAfricaOutright ban
MalawiAfricaVisual line of sight required
MalaysiaAsiaEffective ban
MaldivesAsiaEffective ban
MaliAfricaNo drone-related legislation
MaltaEuropeUnrestricted
Marshall IslandsOceaniaNo drone-related legislation
MauritaniaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
MauritiusAfricaVisual line of sight required
MexicoNorth AmericaVisual line of sight required
Micronesia, Fed. Sts.OceaniaNo drone-related legislation
MoldovaEuropeNo drone-related legislation
MonacoEuropeUnrestricted
MongoliaAsiaNo drone-related legislation
MontenegroEuropeVisual line of sight required
MoroccoAfricaOutright ban
MozambiqueAfricaNo drone-related legislation
MyanmarAsiaEffective ban
NamibiaAfricaVisual line of sight required
NauruOceaniaNo drone-related legislation
NepalAsiaVisual line of sight required
NetherlandsEuropeVisual line of sight required
New CaledoniaOceaniaNo drone-related legislation
New ZealandOceaniaExperimental visual line of sight
NicaraguaNorth AmericaOutright ban
NigerAfricaNo drone-related legislation
NigeriaAfricaEffective ban
North MacedoniaEuropeVisual line of sight required
NorwayEuropeVisual line of sight required
OmanAsiaEffective ban
PakistanAsiaNo drone-related legislation
PalauOceaniaNo drone-related legislation
PanamaNorth AmericaUnrestricted
Papua New GuineaOceaniaVisual line of sight required
ParaguaySouth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
PeruSouth AmericaVisual line of sight required
PhilippinesAsiaVisual line of sight required
PolandEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
PortugalEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
Puerto RicoNorth AmericaExperimental visual line of sight
QatarAsiaUnrestricted
RomaniaEuropeVisual line of sight required
Russian FederationEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
RwandaAfricaExperimental visual line of sight
SamoaOceaniaNo drone-related legislation
San MarinoEuropeNo drone-related legislation
Sao Tome and PrincipeAfricaNo drone-related legislation
Saudi ArabiaAsiaExperimental visual line of sight
SenegalAfricaOutright ban
SerbiaEuropeUnrestricted
SeychellesAfricaVisual line of sight required
Sierra LeoneAfricaNo drone-related legislation
SingaporeAsiaExperimental visual line of sight
Sint Maarten (Dutch part)North AmericaExperimental visual line of sight
Slovak RepublicEuropeVisual line of sight required
SloveniaEuropeOutright ban
Solomon IslandsOceaniaVisual line of sight required
SomaliaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
South AfricaAfricaExperimental visual line of sight
South SudanAfricaNo drone-related legislation
SpainEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
Sri LankaAsiaExperimental visual line of sight
St. Kitts and NevisNorth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
St. LuciaNorth AmericaUnrestricted
St. Martin (French part)North AmericaExperimental visual line of sight
St. Vincent and the GrenadinesNorth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
SudanAfricaNo drone-related legislation
SurinameSouth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
SwazilandAfricaVisual line of sight required
SwedenEuropeUnrestricted
SwitzerlandEuropeUnrestricted
Syrian Arab RepublicAsiaOutright ban
TaiwanAsiaVisual line of sight required
TajikistanAsiaNo drone-related legislation
TanzaniaAfricaVisual line of sight required
ThailandAsiaVisual line of sight required
Timor-LesteAsiaNo drone-related legislation
TogoAfricaNo drone-related legislation
TongaOceaniaNo drone-related legislation
Trinidad and TobagoNorth AmericaExperimental visual line of sight
TunisiaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
TurkeyEuropeUnrestricted
TurkmenistanAsiaNo drone-related legislation
Turks and Caicos IslandsNorth AmericaUnrestricted
TuvaluOceaniaNo drone-related legislation
UgandaAfricaExperimental visual line of sight
UkraineEuropeVisual line of sight required
United Arab EmiratesAsiaVisual line of sight required
United KingdomEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
United StatesNorth AmericaExperimental visual line of sight
UruguaySouth AmericaVisual line of sight required
UzbekistanAsiaOutright ban
VanuatuOceaniaVisual line of sight required
Venezuela, RBSouth AmericaUnrestricted
VietnamAsiaUnrestricted
Yemen, Rep.AsiaNo drone-related legislation
ZambiaAfricaVisual line of sight required
ZimbabweAfricaExperimental visual line of sight

So How Are Drones Used Worldwide?

The myriad of drone uses are literally and metaphorically up in the air—while they originated in military needs, drone uses now range from hobbies such as aerial photography to supporting disaster relief.

The following regional maps show privacy laws in closer detail, while also highlighting interesting case studies on how drones are used.

North America

Drone Privacy Laws 820px North America
Click here for the high-resolution version of this graphic.

According to the latest drone numbers, 70.5% of registered U.S. drones are recreational, but these proportions may soon decline in favor of commercial uses. As of December 2020, civilian drones are allowed to fly over populated areas, a step towards fulfilling their potential in package delivery.

Meanwhile, countries like Mexico are beginning to rely on drones to combat crime, with good results. In the city of Ensenada, a single drone’s surveillance patrol resulted in a 10% drop in overall crime rates in 2018. Drones are increasingly being used to monitor illicit activity such as drug trafficking routes.

South America

Drone Privacy Laws 820px South America
Click here for the high-resolution version of this graphic.

Interestingly, the environmental applications of drones come into play in the Amazon rainforest. An indigenous tribe in Brazil is using drones to track levels of deforestation and forest fires—and presenting that data evidence to authorities to urge them to act.

Across the continent, drones are also in place to deliver everything from hospital supplies to life jackets in Chile and El Salvador.

Europe

Drone Privacy Laws 820px Europe
Click here for the high-resolution version of this graphic.

The first unmanned, radio-controlled aircraft test flight occurred in the United Kingdom in 1917. The Kettering Aerial Target (or “The Bug”) carried 180 pounds of explosives and became the basis for modern missiles.

While Europe has some of the most liberal drone privacy laws today, that doesn’t mean they’re lenient. Even among countries that allow experimental visual lines of sight (such as Finland and Portugal), special permissions are required.

Middle East and Central Asia

Drone Privacy Laws 820px Middle east and central asia
Click here for the high-resolution version of this graphic.

The military applications of drones persist in this region. Iran was one of the first to use armed drones and continues to do so, while simultaneously banning their public use.

Neighboring Turkey also relies on kamikaze drones, augmented by AI and facial recognition, to strengthen border security.

Rest of Asia and Oceania

Drone Privacy Laws 820px Rest of Asia Oceania
Click here for the high-resolution version of this graphic.

China-based DJI is the world’s largest drone manufacturer, dominating 70% of the global market. Across Asia, drones have been in use for mass surveillance, particularly in China. In recent times, drones also track compliance with strict COVID-19 guidelines in Malaysia and Singapore.

Meanwhile, in Japan, Nokia is testing out a drone network to provide a more rapid response to future natural disasters. The relief capabilities include disseminating more real-time updates and monitoring evacuation progress.

Africa

Drone Privacy Laws 820px Africa
Click here for the high-resolution version of this graphic.

While many parts of Africa haven’t developed any drone-related laws yet, promising innovation is rearing its head. Medical drones are already saving lives in Rwanda, delivering supplies in as little as 15 minutes.

In the same vein, the pioneer African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA) opened in Malawi. The academy promotes drone usage for humanitarian and disaster preparedness, and aims to equip individuals with the relevant skills.

Towards Greater Heights?

As the uses of drones evolve over time, so will their legal status and the privacy concerns surrounding them. However, the adoption of any technology is always accompanied by a certain level of skepticism.

With drones, it remains to be seen whether they’ll mostly occupy the role of a friend or a foe for years to come—and that power lies only in the hands of those who remotely control them.

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Technology

Ranked: The Most Innovative Companies in 2021

In today’s fast-paced market, companies have to be innovative constantly. Here’s a look at the top 50 most innovative companies in 2021.

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Most Innovative Companies 2021

Ranked: the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2021

This year has been rife with pandemic-induced changes that have shifted corporate priorities—and yet, innovation has remained a top concern among corporations worldwide.

Using data from the annual ranking done by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) using a poll of 1,600 global innovation professionals, this graphic ranks the top 50 most innovative companies in 2021.

We’ll dig into a few of the leading companies, along with their innovative practices, below.

Most Innovative Companies: A Breakdown of the Leaderboard

To create the top 50 innovative company ranking, BCG uses four variables:

  • Global “Mindshare”: The number of votes from all innovation executives.
  • Industry Peer Review: The number of votes from executives in a company’s industry.
  • Industry Disruption: A diversity index to measure votes across industries.
  • Value Creation: Total share return.

For the second year in a row, Apple claims the top spot on this list. Here’s a look at the full ranking for 2021:

 CompanyIndustryHQChange from 2020
1AppleTechnology🇺🇸 U.S.--
2AlphabetTechnology🇺🇸 U.S.--
3AmazonConsumer Goods🇺🇸 U.S.--
4MicrosoftTechnology🇺🇸 U.S.--
5TeslaTransport & Energy🇺🇸 U.S.+6
6SamsungTechnology🇰🇷 South Korea-1
7IBMTechnology🇺🇸 U.S.+1
8HuaweiTechnology🇨🇳 China-2
9SonyConsumer Goods🇯🇵 Japan--
10PfizerHealthcare🇺🇸 U.S.Return
11SiemensTechnology🇩🇪 Germany+10
12LG ElectronicsConsumer Goods🇰🇷 South Korea+6
13FacebookTechnology🇺🇸 U.S.-3
14AlibabaConsumer Goods🇨🇳 China-7
15OracleTechnology🇺🇸 U.S.+10
16DellTechnology🇺🇸 U.S.+4
17Cisco SystemsTechnology🇺🇸 U.S.-5
18TargetConsumer Goods🇺🇸 U.S.+4
19HP Inc.Technology🇺🇸 U.S.-4
20Johnson & JohnsonHealthcare🇺🇸 U.S.+6
21ToyotaTransport & Energy🇯🇵 Japan+20
22SalesforceTechnology🇺🇸 U.S.+13
23WalmartConsumer Goods🇺🇸 U.S.-10
24NikeConsumer Goods🇺🇸 U.S.-8
25LenovoTechnology🇭🇰 Hong Kong SARReturn
26TencentConsumer Goods🇨🇳 China-12
27Procter & GambleConsumer Goods🇺🇸 U.S.+12
28Coca-ColaConsumer Goods🇺🇸 U.S.+20
29Abbott LabsHealthcare🇺🇸 U.S.New
30BoschTransport & Energy🇩🇪 Germany+3
31XiaomiTechnology🇨🇳 China-7
32IkeaConsumer Goods🇳🇱 NetherlandsReturn
33Fast RetailingConsumer Goods🇯🇵 JapanReturn
34AdidasConsumer Goods🇩🇪 GermanyReturn
35Merck & Co.Healthcare🇺🇸 U.S.Return
36NovartisHealthcare🇨🇭 Switzerland+11
37EbayConsumer Goods🇺🇸 U.S.Return
38PepsiCoConsumer Goods🇺🇸 U.S.Return
39HyundaiTransport & Energy🇰🇷 South KoreaReturn
40SAPTechnology🇩🇪 Germany-13
41InditexConsumer Goods🇪🇸 SpainReturn
42ModernaHealthcare🇺🇸 U.S.New
43PhilipsHealthcare🇳🇱 Netherlands-20
44DisneyMedia & Telecomms🇺🇸 U.S.Return
45MitsubishiTransport & Energy🇯🇵 JapanNew
46ComcastMedia & Telecomms🇺🇸 U.S.New
47GETransport & Energy🇺🇸 U.S.Return
48RocheHealthcare🇨🇭 SwitzerlandReturn
49AstraZenecaHealthcare🇬🇧 UKNew
50BayerHealthcare🇩🇪 Germany-12

One company worth touching on is Pfizer, a returnee from previous years that ranked 10th in this year’s ranking. It’s no surprise that Pfizer made the list, considering its instrumental role in the fight against COVID-19. In partnership with BioNTech, Pfizer produced a COVID-19 vaccine in less than a year. This is impressive considering that, historically, vaccine development could take up to a decade to complete.

Pfizer is just one of four COVID-19 vaccine producers to appear on the list this year—Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca also made the cut.

Meanwhile, in a completely different industry, Toyota snagged the 21st spot on this year’s list, up 20 places compared to the rankings in the previous year. This massive jump can be signified by the company’s recent $400 million investment into a company set to build flying electric cars.

While we often think of R&D and innovation as being synonymous, the former is just one innovation technique that’s helped companies earn a spot on the list. Other companies have innovated in different ways, like streamlining processes to increase efficiency.

For instance, in 2021, Coca-Cola performed an analysis of their beverage portfolio and ended up cutting their brand list in half, from 400 to 200 global brands. This ability to pare down and pivot could be a reason behind its 20 rank increase from 2020.

Innovation Creates Value

As this year’s ranking indicates, innovation comes in many forms. But, while there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, there is one fairly consistent innovation trend—the link between innovation and value.

In fact, according to historical data from BCG, the correlation between value and innovation has grown even stronger over the last two decades.

Most Innovative Companies 2021

For example, in 2020, a portfolio that was theoretically invested in BCG’s most innovative companies would have performed 17% better than the MSCI World Index—which wasn’t the case back in 2005.

And yet, despite innovation’s value, many companies can’t reap the benefits that innovation offers because they aren’t ready to scale their innovative practices.

The Innovation Readiness Gap

BCG uses several metrics to gauge a company’s “innovation readiness,” such as the strength of its talent and culture, its organization ecosystems, and its ability to track performance.

According to BCG’s analysis, only 20% of companies surveyed were ready to scale on innovation.

Scaling Innovation

What’s holding companies back from reaching their innovation potential? The most significant gap seems to be in what BCG calls innovation practices—things like project management or the ability to execute an idea that’s both efficient and consistent with an overarching strategy.

To overcome this obstacle, BCG says companies need to foster a “one-team mentality” to increase interdepartmental collaboration and align team incentives, so everyone is working towards the same goal.

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Technology

Timeline: Looking Back at 10 Years of Snapchat

A high level look at Snapchat’s 10-year history, including user growth, innovative product design, and the twists and turns along the way.

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10 years of snapchat

Looking Back at 10 Years of Snapchat

Over the years, many ideas have emerged from the dorm rooms at Stanford University, but not all of them evolve into billion dollar companies.

Snapchat, however, has beaten the odds. The company’s stock has recently shot up during the COVID-19 pandemic, a bright spot in a decade of highs and lows.

The graphic above is a high level look at Snapchat’s 10-year history, including user growth and financials. Snapchat’s wild ride from start-up to massive success is well documented, so we’ll focus on key elements of story—product design, the Facebook rivalry—and look at how the company is doing today now that the hype surrounding the app has died down.

But first, a quick history…

Setting the Scene

Snapchat originally began its life as a project called Picaboo in 2011.

Cofounders Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown, who were attending Stanford, began building an app that could send photos that disappear after a certain amount of time.

Picaboo was renamed Snapchat in 2012, and by the end of that year, it was clear that the start-up was onto something big. A $13.5 million Series A financing in early 2013 helped fuel the company’s explosive growth.

Positive Momentum: Product Design

One of Snapchat’s biggest strengths over the years has been innovative product design. Many of the features we now see baked into every social app originated from Snapchat.

Here’s a quick rundown of Snapchat’s key feature and product development over the past decade.

snapchat feature product timeline

Of all the features listed above, the concept of stories is perhaps the most significant contribution to the digital landscape. Disappearing short-form videos started off as a messaging tool, but ended up transforming the way people share their lives online.

As well, the forward-looking acquisition of Looksery in 2015, helped introduce millions of people to augmented reality (AR). AR continues to be a major growth driver for Snapchat today, as advertisers embrace the Lenses feature.

Negative Momentum: Facebook Rivalry

To Mark Zuckerberg’s credit, he realized the potential of Snapchat early.

When the company was only one year old, the Facebook CEO offered the Snapchat founders $60 million to buy the company. When they rejected the offer, Facebook almost immediately launched an app called Poke which was extremely similar to Snapchat’s offering. You’d be forgiven for not knowing what Poke is, as the app received a tepid reception and was quietly shut down in 2014.

“I hope you enjoy Poke.” – Mark Zuckerberg, in an email to Evan Spiegel

For Snapchat, Poke was a blessing in disguise as it brought even more attention to their growing app. Mark Zuckerberg, however, was not done trying to steal the company’s thunder. After offering $3 billion in cash to purchase Snapchat (the offer was once again rebuffed), Facebook copied a number of features from Snapchat and integrated them into Instagram.

Stories were a massive hit for Instagram, and Snapchat, which could not yet match Instagram’s scale, took a big hit. Growth began to slow noticeably after that Instagram update.

Snapchat Today

Snapchat hit rock bottom in 2018 after shares dropped below the $5 mark, and user growth had stalled out. As well, underwhelming sales of Snapchat’s Spectacles product garnered negative press and hurt the brand’s “cool factor”.

Today though, the situation looks much different. The app still has a strong market share with the younger demographic, and close to 300 million daily active users. Snapchat was one of the many digital companies to benefit from the COVID-19 pandemic (or, at least, the increase in digital content consumption), and the share price has rocketed to new highs. One other promising indicator is the company’s rising average revenue per user, or ARPU.

arpu revenue per user snapchat

Of course, as the last 10 years have shown, success is not guaranteed. TikTok is still a significant competitor with a lot of momentum, and tastes can change quickly in the digital world. That said, there is a positive path forward for Snap Inc.

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