Facebook has long sought to integrate multimedia options into its platform. It has so far been unsuccessful when it comes to music, but it looks like the company may have a winner on its hands with Instagram's new video record feature. Instagram, the popular tool for sharing and hipster-izing photos, was purchased by Zuckerberg, Inc. in April of last year and has leveraged it to bring video to users.
Part of Facebook's strategy is aimed directly at Twitter, which launched its six-second video app Vine earlier this year. Twitter also blocked integration of Instagram into user timelines after Facebook bought it, turning the rivalry into a pissing contest between social media nerds.
Some have additionally suggested that Facebook intends to use this new video platform to shoehorn advertising into both the app and Facebook's social media empire. Video ads are a huge cash cow and with non-video ads already appearing in user timelines, this is the next logical, if extremely annoying, step in Facebook's efforts to further monetize its platform.
But is Instagram video truly a Vine killer?
The first and most noticeable difference between Vine and Instagram is the length of the videos: 15 seconds as opposed to Vine's six. When the announcement of the addition to Instagram came down, developers said it just "felt right," but the fact that television ads are made in increments of 15 seconds no doubt had an impact.
Personally, I tend to think six seconds fosters a degree of creativity that 15 doesn't. That limitation of time forces users to really think about every millisecond of video that goes on the screen. Of course, you can opt to do a video shorter than 15 seconds, but there's something about the required limit that "feels right" to me.
Another unique feature of Instagram video is the use of its popular photo filters. They've added a few to the batch and it gives users a chance to make their videos, just like their images, look old and worn. As of now, they are simply photo filters applied to video, so no film-style scratches or anything, but given the fact that there are already apps out there that do that sort of thing, it can't be far off. It's still a tad clunky when applying the filters, but they are interesting to try. So far, Vine hasn't offered any filtering options of note.
Additionally, Instagram gives users the option of selecting a still frame for the display, which means the thumbnail of the video is what you want, not the first frame. Very clever.
Winner: Instagram Instagram continues its use of the single button for recording video just as it does for photos. It apparently includes an image-stabilization algorithm that will help keep the video steady when moving. It does seem to add a level of stability to the process, but not dramatically more than Vine. I do think Vine simplifies the process of recording a video by not requiring the user to hold a button (you can use the entire screen) and immediately showing what you've recorded (Instagram takes a little time to load, no doubt a result of the extra time of the video).
One real plus for Instagram is the fact that videos don't automatically play in the timeline when they come into the frame. This invariably slows Vine down and creates glitches. In Instagram, you just tap to watch, and videos are designated by a small icon in the upper right corner of the image.
The question is whether the new features of Instagram will kill Vine. Probably not. But Instagram does have more users and a head start in that department. Additionally, it will no doubt have tight integration with Facebook. Vine simply displays links on Twitter. Instagram already has super tight integration with the Facebook timeline and photo albums. My guess is that will continue, making it more fun for users and easier to watch.
I doubt Vine will suddenly disappear or even be shoved out the door in the long run. It has advantages and it will continue to grow, without question. But the sleek interface of Instagram, its tight integration with Facebook and the added features it provides give it a decided edge in the early going.
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