Instagram, the immensely popular photo-sharing app that was acquired by Facebook in a $1 billion deal last year, is not just for photos anymore.
At a press event at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters, Instagram’s co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom debuted a new feature called, simply, “Video On Instagram.” This lets people create 15-second videos to share on the service. The feature includes simple editing capabilities as well as 13 new filters, which were specially created for video.
“What we did to photos, we just did to video,” Systrom said.
This feature, which is rolling out to all Instagram users on iOS and Android today, will impact a huge number of people due to Instagram’s current reach. Systrom said today that Instagram has 130 million monthly users, who have shared 16 billion photos to date. Engagement on the app is high: Over 1 billion “likes” are added to the service every day.
This confirms our scoop from earlier this week, and also puts an end to the years-long search for an “Instagram for video” that has spawned a number of new startups aiming to fill the gap — Instagram is now the Instagram for video, quite literally. None of the existing apps in the mobile video market have yet to become the definite winner from an adoption perspective, so it will be interesting to see how this takes on with the mainstream.
Indeed, this is a clear move that pits Facebook more firmly against Twitter, which acquired its own short-form video-sharing app called Vine last year. This morning Vine went on the offense, announcing a slate of new features.
In response to a question about why Instagram chose the 15 second time frame, as opposed to the six-second videos offered by Vine, Systrom said that 15 seconds was “an artistic choice” and stressed that he doesn’t necessarily say that one is better than the other. “It’s that Goldilocks moment. It feels just right.”
This is the biggest change in what Instagram fundamentally is since the service first launched nearly three years ago. Systrom has said in the past that video could be in Instagram’s future, but has stressed that video adds challenges that are not presented by photos. In an interview with the Verge last fall, Systrom was asked why video-sharing apps haven’t taken off in the same way that photo-sharing apps have. He said: “I think it’s a combination of data speed limitations and the time it takes to watch a video. Videos are a very difficult medium to be good at, and also a difficult medium to consume quickly.”
Presumably, being a part of a company with Facebook’s resources has enabled Instagram to finally build a feature that rises to video’s challenges. During a Q&A session following the Video On Instagram launch, Systrom said that adding video was a “significant feat” from a server and infrastructure engineering perspective.
Here is a video of Video On Instagram at work:
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/68765934 w=400&h=300]