Facebook adds video sharing to Instagram


Posted at Jun 21 2013 01:50 AM | Updated as of Jun 21 2013 03:03 PM

Introducing Video on Instagram from Instagram on Vimeo.

MENLO PARK (2nd UPDATE) - Facebook announced Thursday that it will add smartphone video-sharing to its Instagram photo-based social network, in a move that challenges Twitter's popular Vine service.

"We need to do to video what we did to photos," Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom said while unveiling Video On Instagram at a press event at Facebook's headquarters in the Silicon Valley city of Menlo Park.

Instagram video apps tailored for iPhones and smartphones powered by Google-backed Android software feature 13 filters for special effects and post to people's Facebook pages the same way pictures do, according to Systrom.

Video snippets will be 15 seconds or less, since the team saw that length as a "Goldilocks moment" not too long and not too short, according to the Instagram co-founder.

Systrom said that Instagram has topped 130 million users and all of them will have "access to recording the world's moments in real time" from Day One.

Instagram engineers worked with leading video scientists to develop a "cinema" feature that stabilizes shaking that is typical in smartphone video.

Facebook acquired Instagram last year. The original price was pegged at $1 billion but the final value was less because of a decline in the social network's share price.

Twitter earlier this year launched Vine, a service that lets people share video snippets up to six seconds long.

"Given the importance of mobile and video for Facebook, the prospect of video features in Instagram should come as no surprise," said Ovum analyst Eden Zeller.

"And given the popularity of Twitter's Vine service, it is perhaps more surprising that Facebook has not introduced video for Instagram sooner."

Facebook still needs to figure out ways to make money from Instagram, according to the analyst.

"We didn't design it with any advertising in mind," Systrom said of the video-sharing service. "I think, over time, we will figure out advertising."

He stressed that Instagram users would own their videos and that Facebook did not intend to use them for marketing or advertising.

The overall digital video advertising market in the United States is expected to surge more than 40 percent to $4.1 billion this year, according to industry tracker eMarketer.

Video advertising on mobile gadgets is expected to more than double to $518 million this year and account for more than a quarter of all US digital video ad spending by the year 2016, eMarketer said.

Systrom confided that he is eager to tinker with Instagram's potential on Google Glass Internet-linked eyewear but has not been able to get his hands on a pair, which has been made available to developers at a price of $1,500 each.

Forrester analyst Nate Elliott noted that Facebook has done well by "borrowing heavily" from other Internet companies.

Examples given by the analyst included Facebook adding Twitter-style hashtags and news feeds, and the social network letting mobile gadget users check-in at locations after Foursquare found success with the model.

"This model of 'borrowed innovation' has worked well for Facebook -- bringing interesting new features to audiences that the social start-ups can only dream of," Elliott said.

"It also keeps Facebook's services fresh, and is one of the reasons more than a billion people still use the site every month."

It's now available for download on iTunes - with a report from Agence France-Presse