Just this past April, Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg announced that the world’s most visited social networking site had purchased wildly popular photo-sharing app Instagram for a measly $1 billion. Facebook finalized the purchase for the photo-sharing app this past week for roughly $715 million.
It’s a not-too-shabby cash-in for Instagram, a 2-year-old startup with zero revenue that garnered its impressive status by enabling users a simple way to take photos, apply filters and share them with friends on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.
Gigaom’s Om Malik says Instagram “has created a platform built on emotion. It created not a social network, but instead built a beautiful social platform of shared experiences.” Instagram continued its growth and, shortly after Facebook’s acquisition, surpassed 50 million users while adding five million more each week.
Ironically, just months earlier, innovators in photography Eastman Kodak declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
A quick Twitter search of Instagram and Kodak returned a myriad of uploaded Instagram photos with a cutline including the phrase: “A Kodak moment.” Coincidentally, Instagram made bank ($715 million) creating a platform that allows users to take photos from their iPhone or Android and alter them to look like they were actually taken by a Kodak camera back before Apple did more than keep the doctor away. How ingenious?
The evolution of smartphones and tablets could create an obvious springboard for similar apps. The Samsung Galaxy S3 was recently unleashed, slightly before its top competitor, the iPhone 5, hits shelves in the coming weeks. Both of the devices that preceded the Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 5 played a major role in the emergence of Instagram. So why not video sharing?
Conceivably, video sharing apps should be right on the horizon, perhaps ready to flex their muscles and become the Instagram of Video. SocialCam and Viddy have already charged to the front of the pack, but nonetheless, here is a small compilation of video sharing sites picking up a full head of steam.
Veni, Viddy, Vici
According to About.com, Viddy tapped into 26 million users in May, including celebs like Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg and even Zuckerberg.
Much like Instagram, Viddy lets users filter or enhance whatever they shoot (in this case, video) and post it on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. You can take videos right through the app and apply sound and other styles before sharing. Users are not required to have a Viddy account to simply watch a video, though.
The chief difference with Viddy and other video sharing apps is it limits users to 15-second clips.
The 15-second window may disturb one’s interest, but imagine the opportunities and creative challenges for businesses. Any marketer can develop an interesting 30- or 60-second clip, even a two-minute montage. It takes some serious creativity to develop a 15-second spot that keeps potential customers coming back for more.
After some research, I gave Viddy a shot on my iPhone. My first Viddy (Voltron style), a quick shot of the office, took awfully long to produce and finally post on Twitter. Like Jason Parker explains in this review, that’s one of the reasons SocialCam is a step ahead.
SocialCam takes the lead
SocialCam, a spinoff of the ever-popular Justin.tv, allows its members to shoot “better-quality videos” with the help of special effects, audio and without time limitations. According to Forbes, it was recently purchased by Autodesk, a design software company, for $60 million.
SocialCam’s leaderboard is occupied by an array of brands and celebs such as MC Hammer, Madonna, the New York Jets, Sierra Mist and MGM Entertainment. All have joined within the last eight months and have at least 750,000 followers already.
If you’re an avid Facebooker, you’ve likely clicked on a SocialCam video and were turned away due to its requirement to sign up to view video through Facebook. This may hurt SocialCam for the time being, but once its popularity takes off further, users will be more apt to create an account.
By clicking “leave app,” users can still watch the video without signing up.
Judging by my initial use, SocialCam has a slight edge over Viddy (I would also like to point out SocialCam’s first filter is dubbed: Kodak). SocialCam was very simple to use and upload. I shot this 13-second clip and shared it via email in no time.
At the back of the pack, but in contention
It’s easy to see why Viddy and SocialCam are the cream of the crop, each incredibly easy-to-use with fluid design, celebrity backing and millions in funding. Yet there are still plenty of competitors inching forward, pushing their way to the front of the line.
Klip, at first glance, is very much like Pinterest. The site is organized around some of the same concepts, like what’s cool or trending. Users are referred to as “Klippers” and videos are, well, “klips.”
In order to watch a klip, though, one must sign-in via Facebook or Twitter.
Another video sharing app, Color, leverages its charm on live video. According to Forbes, it received $41 million in funding from “A-list investors.” It also failed miserably as a photo-sharing startup.
The “new” Color requires users to log in via Facebook, but the exclusive feature of sharing or streaming live video is very appealing, much like iPhone Facetime.
Color points out on its web site that users can take advantage of the app and build a brand. “From Happy Hour specials to behind-the-scenes access, reach your fan base when it means the most.” The app is available for both iPhone and Android users, however, audio is only available for those with Verizon. Users can share live videos through Facebook to a selected audience, obviously only those with a Color account.
Mobli is also predicated off live service. The idea actually derived from CEO and Founder Moshiko Hogeg’s terrible view at a concert. With Mobli, “you can not only share your life, you can see through other people’s eyes.”
Unable to afford tickets to your favorite artist’s concert or maybe you want to get a live look at Derek Jeter’s big at-bat? Mobli is another distinct way to share and watch those moments, and by dividing topics by different “channels,” users can easily find what they’re looking for. Users must connect through Facebook or email to view videos or photos on Mobli.
Another up-and-comer is Ptch, “the first startup incubated at Dreamworks Animation.”
Ptch gives users a platform to share photos and videos, but also combines the two in 60-second mini movies. I mean, how cool is that? It was released for download in late July, and as of Sept. 6, had just seven reviews on iTunes.
Fast Company says, “the video movement just got a little more interesting,” thanks to Ptch.
With Ptch, users can become more than a “wannabe movie director” (shooting, styling, editing and sharing video with friends and followers). They can also modify their friends’ “mashups,” re-sharing them how they see fit. By allowing users to mashup a plethora of photos and videos, there is limitless potential.
And first to the checkered flag
There’s no disputing the competition lined up to become the “Instagram for Video.” It’s only a matter of time before one of these apps puts a stranglehold on the video-sharing world.
While the struggle to become the best of the best is fierce, it may take several rounds before a champion is crowned. For now, newbies like me can give each a shot to determine which app suits us the greatest.
Both SocialCam and Viddy had an Instagram feel to it, but SocialCam’s easy sharing and quick filtering made it much more enjoyable to use. For a sports fan and concert-goer like myself, I wouldn’t like Viddy’s limitation of 15-second clips. How could I possibly share a stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner at my favorite team’s home opener?
SocialCam garners my top vote, though I’d still like to give Viddy because of its originality a shot. Color, meanwhile, deserves to reap some attention as well. I’d be great to share indelible moments with close friends and family as they actually occur.
While it’ll understandably take time for people to establish a bit of loyalty to one or more of these aforementioned apps, it’s imperative that businesses get a head start on building their brand via video. Both Viddy and SocialCam are great tools for “teasers, sneak peeks, promotions or updates.”
More and more brands are joining Instagram, “and with good reason.”
In the meantime, I’ll continue to snap useless office videos using apps like SocialCam, Viddy and Color.