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There are signs Snap’s freefall may be coming to an end

JP Mangalindan
Chief Tech Correspondent
Snap could rebound later this year. Source: AP Photo/Richard Drew

Snap’s (SNAP) stalled user growth can rebound if it rolls out Snapchat’s long-awaited Android redesign, Barclays analyst Ross Sandler, wrote in a report on Monday.

“If and when the new overhauled Android app is available and SNAP potentially gets that side of its user base growing again, we think overall net adds can return to the 7 million-plus quarterly cadence that SNAP averaged before the redesign,” wrote Sandler in the report. “If that plays out, we wouldn’t be surprised to see SNAP shares continue to rebound back to levels experienced for most of 2018.”

On Monday at the Morgan Stanley Technology Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel promised the Android update would be rolled out “by the end of the year.”

“Android is absolutely critical to our strategy," Spiegel said at the conference. "There's something like 2 billion Android users that don't use Snapchat. A couple percent of those I think would be well received by all of us."

Be that as it may, Spiegel has been talking about a major Android update for at least two years now. Until more recently, Spiegel and Snap had prioritized iOS updates, including a disastrous app redesign rolled out in late 2017.

The widely panned update, spearheaded internally by Spiegel, hurt Snap’s user base — it lost users in subsequent quarters — and sent the stock tumbling in the months following, forcing Snap to backtrack somewhat on the controversial redesign last May. And as a result, the Android version of Snapchat lagged behind its iOS counterpart, remaining buggy, slow, and difficult to use.

But there are signs that Snap’s freefall may be coming to an end. In February, Snap reported fourth-quarter earnings that surprised Wall Street: an adjusted loss of $.04 cents earnings per share on revenues of $390 million. Analysts had predicted an adjusted loss of $.07 earnings per share on revenues of $375.8 million.

Snap also ended the quarter with 186 million daily active users, or DAU, the same amount as the previous quarter, indicating that its user base has stabilized for the time being. The company also said it was “cautiously optimistic” and did not expect a sequential decline in daily active users during the first quarter of 2019.

Sandler estimates Snap may be adding as many as 2 million iOS daily active users per month during Snap’s first quarter 2019, but the Android user base is either flat or even declining.

As Spiegel would no doubt agree now, those are users Snap can’t afford to lose.

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