Beginning today, Instagram users will be able to take and share short, 15-second videos with their friends and followers. At an early afternoon press conference at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters, Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom unveiled this new feature to the immensely popular photo-sharing app.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because this new development means that Instagram will now bear a remarkable similarity to current App Store juggernaut Vine. For the unfamiliar, Vine is an app integrated into Twitter that allows users to film short, six-second videos that are stitched together from multiple small clips and share them with their followers.
Instagram was initially designed with the purpose of creating a better way to share photos on social media, with an emphasis on beauty, simplicity and community. This approach led, in turn, to the app’s popular photo filters, it’s simple news feed design and its like-based social aspect.
Historically, Instagram was restricted to photos because, upon its debut in in 2010, smartphone hardware had no way to do the complex medium of video justice. Video is already a remarkably difficult medium to work in with any degree of professionalism, an issue highlighted by Systrom in his conference. Colorwashing, grading, editing, managing and uploading have typically proved to be the insurmountable hallmarks of professional video. There has never been a way, until today, to produce videos of a professional quality using a smartphone.
This is where Instagram’s newest feature diverges from Vine. The latter app only allows users to stitch together basic clips in the order in which they were shot. No editing is possible. Instagram will now allow users to not only film short videos, but to edit them with various filters, to delete and re-film specific clips, and to select a specific cover frame to best showcase their video.
In addition, Instagram has debuted a revolutionary new feature named Cinema. This complements the app’s video capabilities by allowing users to take completely stabilized, professional quality videos.
To understand just how valuable this feature is, an analogy might be helpful. Say you’re chasing your dog along a beach. The sun is setting, casting beautiful pink light across the sand as you and your faithful companion bound through the crashing surf. You decide that this is a beautiful moment that you have to share with your friends. Before this update, they would see a video that shook madly as you struggled to film your dog while running. With Cinema, all of the shaking will be stabilized, leaving a high-quality video of your dog.
This does not bode well for Vine’s future. Instagram already has an enormous and incredibly loyal user base. Sixteen billion photos have been shared in the two and a half years since the app was first launched. One billion photos are liked every day. One hundred thirty million people use Instagram every month. For a bit of perspective, there are only 13 million people using Vine, many of whom may gravitate towards Instagram following this latest update.
Vine now finds itself in the position of offering an obsolete and inferior product in every quantifiable sense. The Cinema feature and built-in filters ensure that Instagram videos will innately have much higher production quality, and the ability to flexibly edit clips will allow users to present more refined videos.
The future has never looked brighter for Instagram. However, Vine’s days will assuredly be numbered if it doesn’t find a way to quickly offer similar capabilities to its users.
[Source: Bloomberg TV]