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Vimeo Acquires Animated GIF App Echograph As Mobile Video Sharing Space Heats Up Thanks To Vine

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Vimeo has acquired GIF-making app Echograph, in a deal whose terms were not disclosed, the company announced today. The price paid for the iPhone and iPad app from Clear-Media was not disclosed, but as a result of the deal Vimeo will now be offering the previously paid app (which was $2.99) for free via the App Store.

Echograph’s team will transfer to Vimeo, and its creator Nick Alt will go from being Clear-Media CEO to VP of Mobile at Vimeo, focusing on their mobile efforts not just on iOS but across all mobile platforms. Vimeo told TechCrunch that the deal made sense for it because the company really loved the quality of the app, and there was a natural fit since Echograph is all about providing creators with high-quality tools for motion content.

The Echograph team will remain based in L.A., giving Vimeo more West Coast presence as a nice side-benefit of the deal. Vimeo will continue to offer Echograph as a separately branded product, too, for the time being, and said they aren’t making anything public about their future plans for integrating the two brands or cross-pollinating content between them. Alt’s role will be about extending Vimeo’s mobile efforts further, however, and in a press release he’s quoted as saying that he’s looking forward to developing “a new fleet of amazing mobile video apps.”

The timing of this deal makes it seem like this might in part be an answer to Twitter’s recent introduction of Vine, the six second video clip sharing service. Vimeo has a strong presence on the traditional web, but an acquisition of a mobile-first video product and the talent that comes along with that is likely an attempt to help it make sure it doesn’t get left behind as bigger brands like Twitter (and Facebook likely to follow) try to tackle mobile video sharing on their own.

There’s not much indication of how much uptake Echograph had on its own, but competitors like Flixel and Cinemagram have both attracted considerable press attention, decent-sized user bases and even sizeable funding rounds. It’s early days for Vine still, but it also appears to have made quite a splash at launch. Backed by Vimeo’s expertise in attracting an auteur audience, Echograph could carve out a unique niche among these other players with a focus on creator experience.