The bull case for Dispo
Dispo: the invite-only camera app you might’ve seen your Twitter feed obsessing over this weekend.
As someone who’s usually bearish on most new consumer social apps, I’ve found myself surprisingly excited about this one. Most of them never seem to find the balance between cloning what’s out there and being too unique.
To many, Dispo looks like just another camera app, but what’s special about it isn’t one singular feature — it’s about how it bundles them together.
Like Huji, Dispo lets you take vibey photos with a retro feel, like back when people took photos with an actual film camera. (I’ve been informed this was more recently than one might think.) Like TikTok and Snapchat, it forces authenticity. Like Instagram, it lets you share your life. And like group chats, it lets you stay connected with your friends and communities in an intimate way.
Let’s break that down.
Dispo is centered around things called “Rolls.” You can think of these as Photo Albums. In addition to being a nifty way to categorize photos, Rolls provide an intimate way to stay connected with friends. People are creating group rolls for photos with each other. They’re sharing hand-written notes. They’re sharing the lattes they make when they wake up in the morning.
Unlike Instagram, there’s an unlimited number of contexts you can post in. Until now, posts have been limited to your public feed, your “finsta” — from “fake insta,” an account you use for your 2am kind of photos — or your Close Friend stories, none of which capture all the contexts of our day-to-day experiences.
Even more exciting are communities being built around themed Rolls. Architecture Rolls, design Rolls, plant Rolls, pet Rolls. It’s hard for me to imagine a way to discover communities or other Rolls isn’t already in the works.
There’s also something to be said about the kinds of photos you’re taking.
Not only is the app gorgeous — #BringBackSkeuomorphism — the photos come out surprisingly well, especially considering there’s no photo editor, and you’re only taking one or two shots through a 1x2 inch viewfinder.
Dispo hits all the marks it needs on the product side, but what I find most compelling is the new user behaviors it creates.
Your photos don’t develop until the next morning, so you’re forced to live in the moment — snap and forget. There’s no pressure to get the perfect shot. It’s a focus on authenticity over appearance.
The authenticity is present not only in the photos you take, but in the in-person experiences you have while using the app. When you can’t edit your photos, much less see what they look like, there’s nothing to do but go back to what you were doing before — watching the concert, laying with your friends at the park, being with your dog.
And because that experience is the same for everyone, you can’t help but appreciate the photos from others more than you normally would. They feel more immersive, more genuine, more in the moment. They didn’t take the photo because they wanted to flex. They took it because it was worth taking, and worth waiting until the next morning for.
New behaviors like this are important for creating affinity. Snapchat’s UI was purposefully confusing. The learned behavior of swiping to navigate made early adopters feel in the know, and the knowledge was passed down to new users like it was tradition.
When you pair these new behaviors with network effects and retention hacks — your photos develop the same time every morning — you start to form habits in your users’ daily lives.
I don’t think it’d be unreasonable to call Dispo the best attempt we’ve seen in the past two years to building the perfect social app. It’s no surprise given David Dobrik’s knack for knowing how to please Gen Z.
It’s authentic, fun to use, thoughtful, intimate, and puts a unique spin on things people were already doing in the first place.
Follow me on Dispo at @justinnnnnn. Six n’s. Because @ justin was taken.