Twitter keeps Vine in the loop with launch of six-second video app

25 Jan 2013

While companies are vying to create the ‘Instagram of video’, Twitter just went ahead and bought a start-up to launch a service that’s the Twitter of the Instagram of video. Confused? Think shareable, condensed video embedded in your Twitter feed and you’re on the right track.

Vine, the video-sharing start-up in question, was bought up by Twitter in October last year even before its app had officially launched. The app lets users record up to six seconds of video, complete with sound, that plays back in a loop. The video can be shot all at once or can be arranged from a few clips – but the six-second rule always applies.

This tight restriction echoes Twitter’s 140-character limit, making Vine a video-sharing service that operates like the microblogging platform but also has the potential to garner an Instagram-like following. Now do you get it?

The short, looping videos appear on users’ Vine profiles, where all posts are public for now (more visibility controls are promised for the future). And, of course, posts can also be shared to Facebook and Twitter.

Six-second steak tartare

Yesterday, Vine announced its arrival to the iTunes App Store with a tweet from co-founder and general manager Dom Hofman that contained a short, looping series of video clips showing how steak tartare is made. Shortly later, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo posted the same clip and it was official: Vine had landed.

The launch was not perfect. A server-side bug crossed wires on users’ account logins and presented a huge privacy issue, and Vine had to temporarily drop the ability to post to Facebook and Twitter as it worked things out. Facebook then added to Vine’s problems by cutting off access to its ‘Find people’ feature – was this some sort of playground revenge for Twitter doing the same to Facebook-owned Instagram last year?

Add to that users’ issues with the very concept of a rapid-fire quick-cut video clip looping away in their Twitter feeds until their eyes water, and the jumpy, jarring soundtrack that comes with these clips (though the videos are – thankfully – muted by default) and you have not quite a stunning debut but more of a clumsy opening.

How it’s being used

For the early adopters, a disappointingly mundane tour of their work desk seems to be the most common Vine fare. And if this is truly going to be the Instagram of video, expect to see people’s dinners in action from now on.

But some users who have embraced Vine early on have taken note of its potential as a communications tool, such as this clip from Diabetes UK that helps to promote its ‘The 4 Ts’ campaign to help recognise diabetes in children.

In a time where we see video content as the way forward, and internet users are known to have increasingly shorter attention spans, Twitter may have hit on something big. That is, the next Instagram, but for video, and on Twitter.

Vine is available now for the iPhone and iPod touch and will reach other platforms soon.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.