Twitter announced Thursday the shutdown of its video app, Vine. The app, which is also a standalone social app, was acquired by Twitter in 2012 for $30 million, lets users share 6-second video clips.
Vine was a unique social network which gave birth to the notion of 6-second-video stars called Vine celebrities. But the 6-second limit on Vine videos, which was along the lines of Twitter’s 140 character limit, drew users to other social networks such as Snapchat. Such a time limit was too short for many video creators who were not able to provide their audience with the context of their video.
Research firm 7Park Data internet analyst Byrne Hobart said in the firm’s Snapchat-Vine comparison: “The shorter a given piece of content is, the faster the viral cycle will be. That’s good for growth: you only have to watch a Vine video for six seconds to decide to share it. But it’s bad if you have a hiccup in content creation; users quickly churn out. The more an app focuses on non-user-generated content, the more they are at risk from changing fashions.”
Vine also suffered because of its hard-to-navigate platform and the fact that its clips could be easily downloaded and then uploaded to Facebook and YouTube. The app also evolved very little in comparison to rivals Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, which kept on adding new features.
According to the analyst’s report, Vine’s growth peaked in August 2014 when 3.64 percent of Android users in the U.S. used Vine. Ever since then, it has been on a downward trajectory, nearly bottoming out at just 0.66 percent of U.S. Android users in July 2016. It could, therefore, make business sense for Twitter to offload its non-performing assets such as Vine.
Vine’s biggest competition is from the Google-owned YouTube, which continues to be the biggest video sharing platform globally. “As YouTube made aggressive overtures to popular Vine users, Vine lost momentum and usage,” Byrne says.
Twitter is also focusing on live streams now and trying to compete with services such as Facebook Live, which weans away its focus from Vine. Although Vine’s shutdown means the reduction of one mode of expression on the wide open web, it also means Twitter is pulling up its boots to run a tighter ship.