Photo-sharing apps like Instagram have taken the digital world by storm, and the next platform in line seems to be social video – at least, that’s what everyone keeps pitching.
Unlike photo apps, current video apps are fragmented, each with a distinct style for presenting and publishing content. One app will limit videos to 15 seconds, while another will encourages users to stitch together multiple clips into one continuous video. Right now platforms and users still seem undecided on how they want to create and watch short-form content. But Twitter’s bet on Vine’s stitched-together, looping clips, just might pay off, should it emerge as the standard for how users want to watch short-form video.
After Dick Costolo publicly teased Vine on Wednesday, which now apparently supports Twitter cards among other smaller upgrades, we all Vine was close to debut. With the full force of Twitter behind it, Vine could offer a serious challenge to third-party apps in the space – none of which have much of a following to hang on to. So which apps might be choked out by Vine?
There are a couple of apps that present videos in the same GIF-like looped format that Vine does, namely Vigi and Lightt. And because of the similarities, these two arguably have the most to lose. Vigi co-founder Senhor Ricardo tactfully told us that the company welcomes the new competitor.But Twitter integration is critical for remotely having a chance of mass adoption. When asked if Vigi offered Twitter card support, Ricardo said that it was a feature that the company was working on integrating – and something that Vine notably already has.
Threat level: High. These apps do what Vine does, but they don’t have Twitter throwing money and spotlight at them, and they aren’t directly embedding into tweets.
One-take video apps
For the apps that aren’t looping or playing out GIF-like content, there are more traditional video apps that play back a seconds-long video shot in just one take. Viddy, Socialcam, and Klip are a few Vine competitors to keep a close eye on, considering these apps are the leading startups in their category and have garnered tens of millions of dollars in funding. Vine could be something of a challenge – maybe one that motivates these competitors to introduce a similar GIF-type function. But because different playback styles of videos have emerged, in retrospect this fractional state could play in Viddy, Socialcam, and Klip’s favor. In fact, if users end up deciding that apps like Vigi, Vine, and Lightt are too “annoying,” the traditional short-form video apps might end up winning.
Threat level: Mild. These apps are also about user-made video clips, but they bring different features to the table that distinguish them, so you could argue they aren’t direct competitors. However, it’s worth noting that Socialcam and Klip don’t support Twitter cards.
Channel-based video apps
The third style of video apps, from a tech standpoint, aren’t all that different from apps like Viddy and Socialcam. Products like Tout and Mobli are distinguishing themselves from competitors by focusing on a different type of business model altogether. These types of apps aren’t just platforms for communication, or for capturing spur of the moment videos. They encourage users to publish quality content, similar to the types of videos that users would upload to their YouTube channels.
Threat level: Low. These apps are more about curating content than creative outlets for users to experiment with.
Twitter-specific video apps
Of course, a handful of third-party developers have made entire products that do nothing but help you upload video to Twitter. Apps like Twitvid, TwitC, and twitLENS exist for the specific purpose of allowing you to put video clips on Twitter – because that’s something that Twitter doesn’t have a native solution for. Of course, Twitter didn’t use to have a native solution for much of anything: The platform didn’t even have its own photo-uploading feature until summer 2011… when it kicked sand in the faces of outside developers who had been providing the function for quite some time and felt blindsided by the move. The Vine acquisition was originally seen as a warning to these third-party video developers, although Twitter hasn’t folded it into the platform as an integrated tool – yet. For the time being, Vine is a separate app that simply feeds into Twitter, like a lot of other video apps do. The different being, of course, that Twitter owns Vine and will therefore be giving it some special treatment.
Testing, testing. twitvid.com/157SGY
— Molly McHugh (@iammollymchugh) January 25, 2013
Threat level: Mild. The biggest threat to these apps is the fact that there’s another Twitter video solution. However, these are more focused on the functionality of uploading videos – not making a creative piece of media, like you do with Vine. Anytime a video app that works with Twitter is launched, these guys have to be a little nervous. The fact that Twitter is increasingly interested in making in-house tools is what is actually nerve wracking for them.
It’s all a little familiar…
If Twitter promoting Vine feels familiar, that’s because the whole deal is incredibly reminiscent of how Facebook scooped up and used Instagram. The obvious difference here is that when Facebook bought Instagram, it was already a huge player in its own right – Vine is not. Still, there are plenty of parallels to be drawn, the first of them being the interest in media-sharing apps. Here we have two big social networks that each scooped up photo-sharing and video-sharing specific apps. Both are letting them exist as standalone apps, although Facebook has some strong tie-ins, bringing a hefty amount of Instagram content to its site. We expect Twitter will do the same at some point, by either integrating Vine into its mobile app completely or somehow featuring its content.
Six seconds of stitched-together, looping videos just might be the next Instagram – but that’s a really big might. There’s always a shot, and the democratization of GIF creation does lend itself to Vine’s potential. With no clear leader in the social video space, and Twitter’s power to market Vine to the masses, thinks look goof for it. But the jury’s still out on whether Twitter is where we want to consume and send these bite-sized videos. Vine may be just the latest experiment, but with Twitter on its side, the cards are stacked in its favor.
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