The other week I posted about Socialcam’s numbers, looking at the fact that a service that was once talked up as the Instagram of mobile video has a much smaller user base than previously thought.
Since then I’ve come across several reports by Business Insider and Comscore, pointing out that mobile video as a category does have enormous potential, it just needs someone how to figure out how to do it right.
Consider the fact that 35% of smartphone users do watch mobile video (source - Comscore in the UK). Meanwhile, mobile video accounted for more than 50% of global mobile data traffic for the first time in 2011, according to Cisco.
So why has no service gained mass adoption so far? The following comment posted in response to a Techcrunch article by Peter Csathy, examining what it will take for an Instagram of mobile video to emerge sums up one argument:
“Looking at a picture takes seconds. Keeping someone looking for more than that needs an interesting topic. You can edit your clip and add music to it on Youtube, but if you suck at it, you still just have crap. Video is a completely different thing than photos, it needs CONTENT.”
Maybe so but I would argue that YouTube is living proof that there *is* an appetite for home grown and sometimes fairly amateurish content. A scan through the list of top ten subscribed YouTube channels throws up names you won’t see on your TV set.
So who might be able to break through in future? Here are five candidates who I think could have what it takes:
1 - Viddy
Though like Socialcam, Viddy’s numbers aren’t (as yet) at the mass adoption stage, I think it out of the two it has more potential.
Viddy’s 15 second format is sound for a number of reasons. It eats up less mobile bandwidth (and hence data costs) for one thing.
The difference between 15 seconds of Viddy and two minutes of Socialcam can also make a big difference between how a mobile video is perceived.
Take the daily 15 seconds of Tokyo report with 6000+ followers as one example (top clip). At 15 seconds it is quirky and easy to put together. Two minutes would raise the bar considerably and two or three minute home grown videos can often look tedious when viewed on a mobile screen.
Finally, Viddy has now migrated to Android after being iOS only and has a number of celebrity users (Justin Bieber anyone?)
2 - Cinemagram and animated gifs
Not strictly speaking mobile video as such, animated gifs have developed a cult following and have also been used by the mainstream media to add colour to major happenings ranging from the Olympics to the US Presidential elections.
3 - Frameblast
One unique feature? The ability to splice together various video clips into one mobile video (unlike Viddy or Socialcam where the one video you take is the one you edit and share).
Like Strum (see below), Frameblast also makes a big deal out of the ability to add a music track on top of your clip.
4 - Snapchat and mobile video messaging applications
Facebook itself paid Snapchat the ultimate compliment by (unsuccessfully) trying to directly copy Snapchat’s model of short, temporary video messages that self destruct after being watched.
Partially as a result of Facebook’s ‘poke’ app, the mainstream media has now woken up to the fair amount of adoption Snapchat is getting with teens and young adults (including questioning whether its a ‘sexting’ tool)
5 - Strum
Smule, the developer of Ocarina, one of Apple’s all time top twenty apps, has taken the Viddy model of 15 second video one stage further.
Essentially by adding music you turn your clip into a short home-grown music video.
Personally I think that by mixing 15 second video with social audio, Smule is onto a potential winner.
As a piece in Fast Company points out, the company has form - a track record of having seen 950 million pieces of music being created across 78 million devices through its existing music-related apps.
Finally, I haven’t included it in my main list, but don’t forget YouTube itself, which recently came out with an iOS app, Capture, lauded by the tech and social media press.