Snap Inc. (NYSE:SNAP) continues to miss out on the potential Android bump. Android has more than 2 billion users who could help lift Snap's falling daily active users (DAUs), but the current Snap Android app frequently lags, has poor picture and video quality, and randomly crashes.
Earlier this year, Snap released a poorly received Android redesign as a temporary fix. For a long-term fix, Snap hoped to launch a completely rebuilt Android app by September. But now we're nearing the end of 2018, and Snap says it's still not ready.
Snap's DAUs dip, primarily due to Android users
The delay in the Android app redesign has been weighing on the company's DAUs. For the past quarter, Snap reported a dip in DAUs for the second quarter in a row. This time, Snap saw a 1% sequential decline, to 186 million. The company said the lost users were primarily those using Android devices, because the app is glitchy.
To make matters worse, the company warned investors to expect another decline in DAUs for the third quarter. That seems to imply that Snap isn't expecting the Android redesign to roll out anytime soon.
But CEO Evan Spiegel reassured investors on the earnings call that once the Android redesign is released, the decline in DAUs should be reversed. In a letter to employees in October, Spiegel said that he expected DAUs to grow in 2019.
He said he's especially hopeful that Snap has a long runway to grow abroad. But international users skew toward Android phones, which don't yet have a quality app. In fact, this year, about 85% of global smartphone users were using the Android operating system (OS), while just 15% were using iOS, according to data from IDC.
Snap continues to miss out on the Android boost
Snap knows that its glitchy Android app is holding it back from a global growth opportunity. And you can't fault a company for not wanting to release a redesign before it's been perfected.
Right now, the Android redesign is being tested in select markets, Spiegel said on the earnings call. Earlier this year, he said he hoped to have it out by September, but this time, he didn't give a specific date for its release. "We still have a bunch of work to do there," he admitted on the earnings call. "I think quality takes time."
The Android redesign has become an unexpected headache for Snap because of the app's legacy code -- or code that isn't engineered anymore so it's just continually being patched. After enough patches to the code, it becomes messy enough that if you go in to fix one thing, it will most likely break something else. It's a vicious cycle. Snap realized it was better off releasing a temporary redesign for Android users and then building an entirely new app.
Another complicating factor is that there are 60,000 variants of Android, while there's only one iOS variant. That makes things more difficult for Snapchat developers.
The good news is that when the Android redesign finally rolls out, future updates for the app should be quick and easy because it will be working with a solid code foundation. The long-term benefits are worth Snap taking the time it needs to make sure it builds this app correctly.
This has been a tough year for Snap, starting with a redesign that caused a huge backlash from users, who felt it was complicated and frustrating to use. Alienating users with the redesign, plus not having a quality app ready for the billions of Android users, has hurt the company's growth. Snap seems to be viewing this Android redesign as the answer to its slowing growth, but even that's not guaranteed.