Well that was quick...about half a year is all it took for Instagram to address the Vine threat. I was a huge Vine supporter (see the rest of this blog), but I think Instagram's latest release is going to be pretty devastating for Vine. I've read a lot about what people like/disliked about each offering and I wanted to share my thoughts from a user and product perspective on what really matters when competing in the social video space.
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Have you ever been caught in a virtual love triangle? I don’t mean like the catfishing of Manti Te’o, but rather - torn between which app you should use to capture and share a moment?
Does this picture belong on Path or Instagram? Should I post a video to YouTube or Vimeo? Is this status update more appropriate for Twitter or Facebook?
Questions like these are an increasingly common speed bump in our “if it isn’t shared, it didn’t happen” culture. For the most part competing services can, and do, co-exist - as long as each service has enough of a differentiator. As David Pogue wrote
, it’s far more common that “things don’t replace things; they just splinter.” Sure, one side may have more market share than the other, but very rarely does a product or service actually kill another one.
Not this time.
This time it’s MySpace vs. Friendster (or Facebook vs. MySpace). But why? What makes this latest version of Instagram such a devastating competitor to Vine?
To start, here are a few things that don’t matter:
- 6 second vs. 15 second clips
- Video filters
Think 15 second videos are too long? No problem. Instagram doesn’t force you to use the full 15 seconds (just like Vine doesn’t require you use the full 6). And unlike Twitter’s restrictive 140 characters, IG’s 15 second time limit feels spacious - as least compared to Vine. Go about capturing your moment, and chances are you won’t bump up against the max limit. Sure, creativity comes from constraint
but more constraint doesn’t mean more creativity.
Compared to photo filters, it’s less obvious how video filters help to make a clip better. For one, it’s more time consuming to select the right video filter vs. a photo filter. Secondly, video filters have the potential to add a new perspective in a way that lightening or darkening a photo can’t match.
Filters at their best help to create a new or unique perspective on things we’ve seen before. Imagine if video filters could allow us to adjust time instead of just color. I could shoot a video, then filter it to be shown in slow-mo or sped up, or reversed, or even…looped. Vine’s one remaining differentiator could be addressed by this shift in video filtering.
Without an obvious differentiator, users are left with little reason to choose one service over another. Typically this is where an upstart's community can help out - with the early adopters providing enough content to engage new users - but in this case Instagram's community is still far from slowing down. Out of the gate - engagement in the form of likes/comments on video content shared on Instagram already trumps what Vine can offer.
To survive, Vine has to overcome (at least) two big challenges:
- As soon as possible, catch up to some of the functionality that Instagram just released. At the top of the list: super fast video load times and video image stabilization (seriously, watch this) - neither of which is a small engineering challenge.
- Update their app’s offering to make it clear why I should post to Vine over Instagram.
That second challenge requires a post on its own, but if Vine can help me to take and make more interesting clips (and help drive more views to them via Twitter's awesome distribution power) I could see splintering my usage to something like Vines for videos, and Instagram for pics only - providing enough space for each app to co-exist.
Until then, insert your own “Vine’s in danger of getting clipped” pun.About me
: I’ve used Instagram
since pretty much the day each service was released. I don’t have friends that work directly on either service - and I’m not particularly Twitter or Facebook biased. I’m just excited by this new art form
and rooting for whoever can build the best tool to capture an experience
(originally posted on Medium