Remember last spring when “Instagram for video” apps like Viddy and Socialcam were all the rage? Things have been pretty quiet since then, especially after Socialcam was acquired for $60 million in July. The video-sharing app never launched, although that didn’t make Twitter shy away from buying Vine last fall. Today, Twitter finally launched Vine as a standalone app for iPhones and iPod Touches.
Like Viddy and Socialcam, Vine specializes in short clips—in this case six seconds long—that can be more easily uploaded and viewed over a cellular connection. Unlike Viddy’s and Socialcam’s more customizable but labor-intensive video editing tools, Vine has a simpler approach. Users must hold a finger to the screen to record and can pause a recording by taking their finger off the screen, allowing them to cut away to include something else in the six-second clip.
Like just about any content-sharing mobile app, Vine users can like or comment on other users’ videos and share their own videos to Vine, Twitter and Facebook. They can also peg a location to their video via Foursquare. Vine users can find others to follow by having the app crawl their address books or Twitter and Facebook accounts (assuming a user connects the latter two accounts to Vine).
For now it doesn’t look like there are any special features specific to brands, but Vine's launch is still new. As with Viddy and Socialcam, the question for brands will be whether there’s an audience for them on Vine, though the answer may be their audience off Vine. While a standalone app, Vine plugs into Twitter’s expandable tweet functionality Cards so that if a Vine user tweets their video, followers can easily view it without leaving their Twitter feed. Whether that means Vine eventually gets entirely folded into the Twitter app or remains a standalone with Twitter as a significant distribution mechanism is another matter. But Twitter CEO Dick Costolo showed off the integration in a teaser tweet on Wednesday.
Vine’s adoption among marketers could also hinge on how soon it rolls out a version for Android phones. For years Instagram was iOS-only but saw a massive jump in its user base after launching an Android app last spring.