Undoubtedly, 2016 has been the biggest year in history for video and video applications across the board. It seemed like every month we heard of a new site, app or feature being launched that would allow us a different way to consume video – especially those created by our family, close friends and celebrities we follow. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the major video-related successes from throughout the year (in no particular order):
2016 – a year of video in review
• Snapchat’s ‘discover’ explodes in popularity and the brand introduces new feature that automatically plays the next story
• Snapchat announces memories, allowing users to scroll through their old snaps making the moments easier to relive
• CRTC institutes pick and pay system for Canadian television providers to give cheaper options to consumers who watch less TV
• Facebook launches live video
• Twitter incorporates streaming – used most commonly for NFL games and US Presidential debate
• Twitch continues to excel in growth propelling the eSports community to new heights,
• YouTube Red content expands
• Instagram launches stories; incorporates boomerang to directly compete with Snapchat
• Netflix expands its original series content, announces offline availability of videos
• Amazon Prime video becomes available in Canada
• Vine announces it is shutting down after 3 years of operation
Needless to say, 2016 was an extremely busy year for the video and social media industry. The competition grew fierce midway through the year when Instagram made changes to directly compete with Snapchat, as they began to fight over users. Millennials are unarguably the most active group of users for these apps, but most aren’t using just one. The majority of millennials (myself included) use a combination of these apps, with time spent on each varying depending on the content available at any given time. With Snapchat and Instagram taking the most noticeable jumps to offer original and brand made content for its users, it was inevitable that users would cut time on other apps to spend more time engaging with the new content. This, in my opinion, is what lead to the closure of Vine.
The only problem video app developers haven’t solved, is time.
As great as it is to see many companies constantly finding new innovative ways to share experiences with their audiences, no company has managed to solve the problem of time. The fact of the matter is, there’s only so much time in a day and users are unlikely to spend even more time on their mobile devices than they already are (when do they sleep, anyway?), meaning that one or a few of these apps are going to fall off of the cliff. Vine, in this instance was the odd man out, simply because it didn’t make enough changes to its platform to influence the average joe to spend time putting together an ingenious loop – especially when the loop was viewable forever unless you manually deleted it.
Video is a very powerful medium and it can be used in a variety of ways to share experiences, memories or simply keep up-to-date with the news in Hollywood. While that might seem overly redundant, as virtually every media site out there allows you to do this, it all comes down to ease of use. Of the video apps and sites mentioned above, most of them are unique and have a feature that differentiates them from the rest, and they do that feature really, really well. Facebook is for friends and family, Twitter is for news, Twitch is for streaming, Snapchat is for “better watch now before it’s gone” moments, Instagram is for photos, Periscope is for mobile streaming, and YouTube is for, well – literally everything. Vine’s 6-second loop concept was great in theory, but it began to parallel Snapchat and failed to innovate quickly enough to overcome the drought of content creation.
What do video apps need to focus on in the future?
Many experts have weighed in on what’s going to be most important for video brands down the road, but most importantly, it comes down to giving users the appropriate tools to make their own content. Perhaps one of the best innovations for Snapchat, outside of it’s discover feature, was the implementation of filters. Why? Because anyone can use them. Literally anyone, and you don’t even have to be that skilled with a camera. Snapchat perfectly created a great feature and made it as simply as possible to use, leaving the door open to endless possibilities of what users may do with them.
Instagram’s inclusion of stories isn’t far behind, along with the integration of boomerang. As simple as the feature may be, it inspires users to create cool loops that they simply wouldn’t be able to execute without the help of a video editing program.
All in all, the future of video apps is bright, but at the end of the day, there can only be so many.
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