Before you write off ephemeral photo-sharing app Snapchat as merely a toy for teens and tweens, consider this: The 2-year-old service counts more than 8 million U.S. users who are 18 or older, according to data provided to CNET by Nielsen.
Snapchat, fresh off adding $60 million in funding, is the insanely buzzy iOS and Android application for sending your friends photos and videos that vanish after a few seconds. The smartphone service for exchanging fleeting moments is all the rage with today's youngsters, and it's developed a reputation as a sanctuary for underage sexting.
What actually happens when "snaps" are exchanged remains a mystery -- at least for the time being -- but new data shared with CNET suggests the application's appeal extends beyond just boys and girls sharing pics they don't want their parents to see.
Snapchat had more more than 8 million unique users of its smartphone application in May 2013, according to Nielsen, which measures smartphone usage with a panel of Android and iPhone users who are in the U.S. and over the age of 18. Nielsen's panel includes roughly 5,000 people, representative of the adult U.S. smartphone population, who run the company's software on their iPhone and Android devices for tracking purposes.
Snapchat's adult audience seems enamored with the application. On average, each of these Snapchat users accessed the app 34 times in May, Nielsen found.
Adults are likely still in the minority. Snapchat does not share registered-user numbers or break out the demographics of its customers. The company prefers to focus on active engagement instead, a representative told CNET.
On that note, Snapchat now sees 200 million snaps exchanged per day, up from 60 million in February. If you consider a snap analogous to a photo upload, then the astronomical number catapults the young app into the same league as Facebook, which sees 350 million photo uploads per day. Perhaps that explains why investors had no qualms about valuing the revenue-less company at $800 million: They don't want to miss out on the next Facebook. Apparently, neither do we older folks.