Will Instagram video weed out Vine?

Thursday's announcement could spark a leapfrogging competition between the rival apps, some experts say

Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom.

Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom.

Facebook has unveiled its new video feature for Instagram, five months after Twitter launched a very similar video app called Vine. Can the rival services co-exist?

"They can," according to analyst Greg Sterling, because Instagram video and Vine serve different audiences, he argued.

The new Instagram feature lets users record videos three to 15 seconds long and apply one of 13 new filters. They can also edit their videos by deleting clips as they record them. And on iOS, the app has a "Cinema" mode to reduce shakiness and produce more professional-looking video.

Vine is a more stripped-down service that records three- to six-second videos, with no filters, editing or image stabilization. Once a video is recorded, users can either save it, upload it or start from scratch.

Vine lets users easily share their videos on its dedicated social network, as well as on Twitter and Facebook; Instagram offers built-in sharing support for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and also Tumblr and Foursquare.

"Vine is like fast food, while Instagram video is more like eating in a nicer restaurant," said Ovum analyst Jan Dawson.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, he said. "Sometimes you just need to grab a burger and get out the door," he said. "For Vine, it's like, 'share and forget.'"

Others said Instagram and Vine don't serve different audiences as much as they represent two different social networks and their efforts to retain and engage users.

"Vine isn't necessarily Twitter, and Instagram isn't necessarily Facebook, but that doesn't mean these apps aren't part of the bigger collective [sites]," said Brian Blau, an industry analyst with Gartner.

Social media networks realize that features around photography and video are things they need to have, Blau said.

"Part of what's going on here is who these companies are and the reach they have, and I think that could really make a difference in terms of the popularity of these features," he added.

"There's a lot of room for both Vine and Instagram video, at least in the short term," said Zachary Reiss-Davis, an analyst with Forrester Research.

"This might be a case where the site that creates the best content wins, and the major social platform providers are all of a sudden becoming content providers," he said.

So will Instagram video, with all its bling, better enable the creation of that content than Vine?

Vine may be getting ready to offer some advanced features of its own. On Wednesday, Vine co-founder Dom Hoffman posted two Vine videos on his Twitter feed that seemed to hint at new tools around texting or messaging. One post was titled, "Tinkering"; the other, "Say something nice."

On Tuesday, Vine posted a thank-you message and video to its users on its blog and Twitter stream.

"Thank you for sharing so many wonderful videos on Vine," the developers said in a tweet. "You're all awesome."

"Over the next few weeks, we'll be introducing some exciting new parts to Vine," developers recently said in a blog post. "This is just the beginning."

Offering more features to better compete with Instagram could be a motivating factor. "There is no doubt Twitter will move quickly to up the ante on Vine, and this could undercut Facebook's efforts with video on Instagram," said Ovum analyst Eden Zoller.

Instagram video "is going to create a leapfrogging competition between Twitter and Facebook to create a service that is not only easy to use, but also create videos that are high quality and enjoyable to consume," said Forrester's Reiss-Davis.

But the next step isn't about focusing on video length or number of filters -- it's about offering an easy-to-use service that ordinary people who don't live in the Silicon Valley bubble will want to adopt, Reiss-Davis said.

"It's not competing on things like 12 filters or three filters," he said. "It's, is this going to be really easy to use?"

Instagram video was announced Thursday morning at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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