On June 20, 2013, Facebook announced video for Instagram, saying it aimed to make video as easy to create and share as possible. The overall look and feel of the updated app are the same, but next to the main capture icon is now a video camera icon. The user taps the button to begin recording up to 15 seconds of video, and when published it appeared in the main Instagram feed. The updated app is available now on both iOS and Android.
On June 15, 2013, Facebook sent the following invitation to select journalists and media outlets for an announcement on June 20, 2013.
“A small team has been working on a big idea. Join us for coffee and learn about a new product.”
That announcement led to a series of rumors about what the "big idea" would be. Some writers though Facebook would announce a Facebook phone, other's a big acquisition, but surprisingly several thought that Facebook would release a Facebook video app similar to Vine.
Unlike Twitter's Vine app, which the video feature closely resembles, Instagram video contains a delete button. Tapping it will eliminate the most recently recorded segment. As you might expect with Instagram, the app includes filters: 13 of them to start, created with the help of a video artist, the company said.
Instragram founder and CEO Kevin Systrom tried to get in front of the inevitable question of whether Facebook had simply copied Vine by saying video was part of the original vision for Burbn, the app that became Instagram. In 2010, Systrom and co-founder Mike Krieger were working on an app that let users share photos and video with location, Systrom said. But they decided to focus on photography to start with and save video for later.
Instagram video allows you to select your own thumbnail for a video, another point of differentiation from Vine. Systrom said.
"It's an Instagram touch."
Instagram video uploads in the background. Like pictures, it can be added to a user's photo and shared on other social networks.
The videos autoplay like Vines, but they do not loop. Systron said.
"It doesn't get in the way. We've worked a ton on making it fast, simple of beautiful."
Instagram video also works to improve the quality of video, Systrom said. The company worked with video scientists to create a feature called "Cinema," automatically stabilizing video. Systrom said.
"It's completely mind-blowing."
The feature only works on iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 for now.
Still unclear is how fast videos will play in the feed. Vine has struggled with long load times for its 6-second clips. Systrom told The Verge.
"I'm going to set expectations: This is day one. We have to figure this out. We have to fine-tune over time based on community feedback."
Not every video will be 15 seconds: The clips can be as short as 3 seconds, Systrom said.
In response to a question from a reporter, Systrom said the company was considering bringing its app to Windows Phone but had no news to share today.
Systrom said 16 billion photos have been shared on the service to date, accumulating 1 billion likes each day. It is used by 130 million people a month.
News that Facebook was working on video for Instagram broke shortly after the company sent out invitations to today's event. And though the company took steps to differentiate its product from Vine, the move also shows Facebook moving quickly to ensure its own users have access to fast and easy video sharing.
COMMENTARY: So how did Instagram and Vine users react to the Instagram Video announcement? This video shows their reaction:
The updated Instagram app with video is available on Apple's App Store and Google's Play. In addition to its signature filters, Instagram will enable 15-second videos, custom cover frames and image stabilization.
The move by the world's largest social network underscores tense rivalry between Facebook and Twitter. Twitter's Vine short-form video service, launched in January, has amassed a fast following for its quirky and raw six-second videos.
Opus Research analyst Greg Sterling said.
"Image stabilization is a very appealing thing. It's a big product for Instagram that will be popular almost immediately. It may have a negative impact on Vine."
Facebook has been unleashing a succession of ongoing defensive moves to capture restless mobile audiences in search of the next big thing.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a brief appearance at the stage.
"As our mobile strategy has evolved, we have focused on developing a number of different kinds of apps."
Snapchat, the app that enables self-destructing photos and videos, became a runaway hit, leading Facebook to unleash a similar service, called Poke. Snapchat ranks No. 9 on Apple's App Store.
Vine users posted more videos on Twitter than did Instagram's photo sharers earlier this month, according to measurement firm Topsy Analytics. Vine is the No. 3 iOS app, trailed by Instagram at No. 21. Instagram has more than 100 million active members; Vine has 13 million.
Facebook has made mobile its priority. Yet after more than year as a public company its stock remains roughly 35.44% below its IPO offering price of $38.00. Facebook shares for the week ending June 21, 2013 ended trading at $24.53, up +0.64 (+2.64%) following the Instagram video announcement.
Under siege from mobile start-ups, Facebook is also at battle with Google's Google+ social network, matching features, as the companies duke it out for display advertising.
Opus Research analyst Greg Sterling said.
"There will be advertising associated with this. It may come six months from now, but there's no rush. They are going to be careful about it."
Digital video advertising is poised to boom. It's expected to surge 41% to $4.1 billion in the U.S. this year from $2.9 billion last year, says eMarketer. Mobile video advertising is expected to jump 112% to $518 million this year from last, according to the researcher.
The Instagram video launch is "critically important for Facebook because younger audiences' engagement with the social network is growing much less than overall growth," said Erich Joachimsthaler, CEO of Vivaldi Partners Group.
In building the service, Systrom said the focus was on simplicity, beauty and community.
“The interface is almost exactly the same [as Instagram], just with an added video button.”
Instagram videos will be short clips up to 15 seconds long, and users will tag and caption the videos as they currently do on Instagram photos.
In addition, Instagram created 13 brand new, custom filters for video. Plus, there is a cover frame function to improve how videos look on mobile devices.