The Android and iOS marketplaces are riddled with messaging apps. From Snapchat and Facebook Messenger to WhatsApp and LINE, there are dozens of free-to-download apps available for mobile device users. However, Yahoo is taking a different approach by offering an invite-only messaging app.
As reported by TechCrunch, Yahoo has launched a new mobile messaging app for Android and iOS devices. Known as Squirrel, it differs from traditional messaging apps by focusing on groups. There are groups for friends, families, coworkers and more, which users can join to send messages, share photos and videos, post links and more. Here’s the thing, though: Users must first receive an invitation from one of the group’s users to join that group. Without an invitation, users can’t join a group.
Shortly after Squirrel was discovered, a spokesperson for Oath, Yahoo’s parent company, released a statement confirming the invite-only messaging app while also saying that Oath regularly experiments with new products based on user feedback and market research.
Some mobile device users may be turned off by Squirrel’s invite-only format. After all, this prevents new users from easily using the app. However, sources say the invite-only format could help Yahoo overcome the growing privacy concerns among mobile device users. Users in a group, for instance, may only invite other people in their close network of friends, so there’s little chance of a nefarious individual accessing their messages and information.
Furthermore, Yahoo has experienced several high-profile data breaches in the past. In 2013, the company’s servers was breached, resulting in the disclosure of all 3 billion of its users’ names, email addresses and passwords. Just one year later, Yahoo was hit again, which affected roughly 500 million users. An invite-only format could help Yahoo win the trust of its users by creating a higher level of privacy within the app.
Yahoo isn’t a newcomer to messaging apps. In 1998, the company launched Yahoo! Messenger. Available for Windows, Mac, SunOS, Solaris, Android and iOS, this multi-platform messaging app was used by millions of people. In addition to basic chat messaging, Yahoo! Messenger supported file sharing, likes and group chat. On August 5, 2016, however, Yahoo shut down the popular messaging app in response to the rise of competitors’ apps.