Facebook has added a video function to its popular photo app Instagram, in a move that will challenge both YouTube and Twitter’s Vine in the user generated mobile video space.
Watch the launch ad here:
The new tool will let Instagram users record and share 15-second clips by tapping a video icon in the app. They can also apply 13 different filters to videos to add contrast, make them black and white or different hues.
Speaking at at event at Facebook's California headquarters, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom said: "This is the same Instagram we all know and love but it moves. Fifteen seconds of video [is] the right balance between not-too-short that constrains your creativity and not-too-long where you end up having to wait a lot of time for something to download".
The time limit is more than double that offered by Vine's six-second clip service.
Other differences include the fact that Instagram's videos do not loop, and that its users can choose their thumbnail images.
To use the video feature, Instagram users who've downloaded the latest version can tap on the same camera icon they use to snap photos. A new video camera icon will appear on the right side.
The video filters can make the clips black-and-white, add a blur-effect or otherwise alter the footage.
In addition, iPhone users are offered a "cinema" facility, which stabilises the clips to counteract camera shake.
Mobile video sharing goes mainstream?
When Facebook agreed to buy Instagram in April 2012, it offered $1 billion in cash and stock. But the value of the deal fell to $715 million by the time the deal closed last August.
Instagram was the first — and only — company Facebook has bought and kept running as a separate application.
Instagram has more than 130 million users, up from about 22 million when Facebook bought the company more than a year ago.
If users like it, Facebook's move could propel mobile video sharing into the mainstream. Systrom said.
Vine is expected to announce new features of its own over the coming days after its co-founders uploaded a series of clips teasing an update.
Research firm eMarketer estimates that the U.S. digital video advertising market will grow 41 percent this year, to $4.1 billion from 2.9 billion in 2012. The mobile video ad market is much smaller, though eMarketer expects it to more than double this year to $518 million.