Snapchat CEO: users taking 150M images a day (before they disappear)

Even after Facebook(s FB) released a direct copycat of its service, Snapchat is continuing to grow at breakneck speed. Tuesday CEO and co-founder Evan Spiegel said Snapchat users are uploading 150 million images every day. That’s up from 20 million a day in October, and compared to Instagram’s 40 million a day.

The hallmark of Snapchat is, of course, the impermanence of its images: 10 seconds after an image is viewed by the recipient, it’s deleted from Snapchat’s servers, Spiegel said.

Facebook released Poke in December, a feature that mimics Snapchat’s disappearing images. It clearly didn’t have any kind of slowing effect on Snapchat becoming a major rival for image uploading. It was “the best Christmas present ever, I think,” Spiegel said Tuesday at the D: Dive into Mobile conference.

The uptake of Snapchat’s take-it-and-delete-it photo service has come in only about a year. Though the company existed before January 2012, the service didn’t really start to take off until then, Spiegel said. It was after the 2011 holiday season when “people bought a lot of iPhone 4s” with a front-facing camera, which he said is crucial to to the service.

The main demographic of the service is pretty much what you’d think: 13-year-olds to 25-year-olds, and not a lot of 30 to 40 year olds. The main thing most people are sending before they disappear? “Lotta selfies,” he said. And they’re not to random people, he said; they’re to people who are friends in real life.¬†Most users are snapping with iOS devices, though Spiegel predicts Android growth will come. Eighty percent of users are in the U.S.

But the unifying characteristic of users is their belief in the importance of ephemerality in social media, something Spiegel shares: “I don’t use Facebook. I’m a big Snapchatter … I posted my first Tweet a couple days ago.” He said they’re not “totally ruling out” permanence, but it’s not something they’re focused on right now, he said.¬†“We’re not anti-permanence, but we believe ephemeral should be the default.”