Instagram has been competing with Twitter on the video sharing front for the past several months but now, they appear set to take on a new challenger with an entirely new feature. The image sharing platform is preparing to launch a new private messaging service that would rival that of Snapchat according to "well-placed" sources as reported by GigaOm.

Those in the know say the new features, which could also include group messaging, are likely to arrive in the next version of Instagram. That update is expected to drop sometime before we ring in the New Year. Unsurprisingly, a spokesperson for Instagram declined to comment on the matter.

As the publication correctly points out, the timing makes perfect sense as smartphones are likely to be a hot gift once again this holiday season. That of course means that a host of new handset owners are likely to experience Instagram for the first time and doing so with the new features already baked in seems like a solid plan.

Snapchat has proven there is a market for private messaging in the mobile sector. After a little more than two years on the market, that application has experienced tremendous growth that has attracted major players like Facebook and Google. The startup is rumored to have turned down acquisition offers from both firms, at $3 billion and $4 billion, respectively.

If Instagram is indeed working on a private messaging feature, they'll need to be extremely careful to not overcomplicate it as simplicity is one of the service's core values and a major reason it has been as successful as it has thus far.