In light of Instagram’s success, many rising mobile video apps have endeavored to become the “Instagram for Video.” Companies like SocialCam, Viddy and more have shown prodigious growth in app downloads / monthly active users, but I wonder if these users will truly remain active after the initial buzz dies down.
I came across an interesting post tonight by Semil Shah, which echoed sentiments that I’ve had as of late…
One thing Instagram really has going for them is that it transforms users into artists, essentially… empowering them to capture fleeting moments and make them magical in a way that is easy and fun to consume.
But there’s something different about video… Videos generated in a moment don’t quite have the same effect or ease of display that photos do. Perhaps users need more skill to make their videos look exceptional… It seems much more difficult to make video work.
In his post “Photographs > Video?” Semil brings up some good points as to why he is somewhat skeptical about video:
- “I’m not sure if it’s a core behavior as snapping pictures is”
- “the current interfaces seem to deemphasize “capturing video” as a feature within the camera interface”
- “even if core behaviors change and/or the software around the video camera evolve, there are technical hurdles that would need to be overcome in order for the average phone user to capture and share a video that would meet the requirements the audience’s time to consume that media.”
I tend to agree with Semil’s skepticism about video… to some extent, at least. Regarding Semil’s first point about user’s core behaviors not including video… I don’t think this is much of a problem, as I believe these behaviors will change very soon. (he mentions this himself in #3.) And while current interfaces may “deemphasize capturing video,” fortunately I also believe that mobile UI improvements will make videos even more enjoyable to create and share.
What really made me go “hmm” was Semil’s 3rd point: that users would encounter technical hurdles preventing them from being able to deliver to the standards of their audiences. At first I was like, “my thoughts exactly”… just throwing a filter and a music loop over your video clip doesn’t necessarily make it “magical.” There are more moving parts when it comes to video.
…but then I thought, well what about LIVE mobile video?
At YouNow I’m constantly trying to imagine the future of video… how it will be transformed by mobile, and how users’ core behaviors will evolve over time. People have lower standards (at the moment) for live video - that’s just the nature of it. A trade-off is made, sacrificing production quality in return for experiencing something genuine and raw. While live videos by and large are not (yet!) Mona Lisas, they certainly whet social users’ appetites for intimate engagement.
Perhaps live video could reach audiences despite their technical high standards for video content. I have to think a little bit more about this… but what do you guys think?