In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
The new service has important advantages over Twitter’s competing Vine, one retailer says.
Photo-sharing mobile app Instagram, which Facebook acquired last year for $1 billion, announced today it has introduced video-sharing. Instagram users can now shoot 15-second video clips and share them the same way they do with photos in the app and online, says Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom.
“This is the same Instagram we all know and love, but it moves,” Systrom said in announcing the news today with Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The new Instagram service competes with Vine, which allows consumers to post 6-second videos that play over and over. Twitter acquired Vine last year. Launched in January as a video-sharing mobile app, Vine took off quickly and attracted 3.6 million unique visitors in May, according to Compete, which measures web site traffic. The two leading sources of traffic to Vine in May were Twitter (30.8%) and Facebook (29.9%), Compete says.
Instagram offers users 13 video-specific filters in the app and a “cinema” tool that automatically stabilizes videos, for example, making a clip taken while chasing after a toddler play smoothly rather than displaying a jerky frame. Users can also select a still frame from any point in a video to use as the cover image when they share the clip on Instagram’s social network, Systrom says. The videos do not play on a loop.
Instagram videos are limited to 15 seconds in length because that time is the “right balance between not too short to constrain creativity and not too long that you have to wait for something to download,” Systrom says. However, because capturing an entire scene might take more than 15 seconds, users can put multiple clips together in a “collage” to share on the network, he says. They may also delete clip-by-clip if they’d like to reshoot certain parts of a scene.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, which has posted videos to Vine, wasted no time taking advantage of the new Instagram service. The store and web retailer of handmade ice cream has already posted an Instagram video showing the process of piping macaroons, says community manager Ryan Morgan. He says Instagram videos offer a number of advantages over Vine, including letting a marketer re-shoot clips in the process of recording, the automatic stabilization effects, higher image quality, the longer time format and the ability to select a cover photo to use when sharing a video on social networks. “It's almost a different medium and requires a different approach,” he says. “Vine is rawer, rougher, less polished.”
Morgan says Instagram video allows Jeni’s to show a complex process, such as macaroon-making, in more depth than the retailer can on Vine. “We are going to use Instagram video to take our video storytelling to the next level,” he says. “We're really excited about the story-telling possibilities.”
Jeni’s also has a larger audience on Instagram, with 8,248 followers, than on Vine, with 1,629, furthering its appeal over the competing video service, he says. Jeni’s will eventually have to choose one service to keep and one to boot given budget constraints, he says, though for now the retailer uses both.
“As our mobile strategy has evolved, we’ve worked on developing a number of different apps,” Zuckerberg says. Instagram’s 12-person staff has more than tripled in the year since Facebook acquired it, and its user base has grown from about 12 million to 130 million consumers, Zuckerberg says.
Instagram users have shared more than 16 billion photos with the app so far, and it generates more than 1 billion likes per day, Systrom says.