SCIENCE AND TECH
The Rise and Fall of Twitter’s Video App Vine in 6 Charts
Twitter is shuttering the video app it bought for $30 million. Here's why.
Once upon a time Vine was the fastest growing app in the world. That was 2013, back in the heady days when Twitter acquired the startup, pre-launch for a handsome $30 million.
Vine’s promise was brevity. The platform only allowed for videos that were six seconds long and played in a continuous loop. The constraint ended up being a source of creativity – and catch phrases. How could you tell a story and captivate audiences in the amount of time it takes to recover from a sneeze? Brands adopted the format for clever how-tos, winsome stop-motion loops and celebrity memes were made. Vine even birthed a Canadian superstar; where Bieber found fame on YouTube, Shawn Mendes made his fortune off lyrical loops.
So what happened to Vine? Part of its demise can be attributed to the fact that it was expensive to run and was unable to effectively lure ad dollars. But just as problematic was the rise of competitive platforms Instagram and Snapchat, which in recent years have eclipsed Vine in terms of sheer scale, not to mention the ability to generate significant revenue for its top content creators (along with YouTube, a far more lucrative stop for content creators).
While die-hard Vine users are crestfallen by the news, as these six charts show, competition from Instagram and Snapchat was simply too fierce to stave off, and at the end of the day, Vine’s most popular creators simply took their content elsewhere.
When Vine first launched it was leagues ahead of its closest competitors in terms of growth. At the time, broadband rates were still rather high so the platform’s short video format allowed for quick video without chomping at data plans. Also, Instagram had yet to add video and Snapchat, which launched in 2012, hadn’t hit mainstream radars yet.
By 2013, Vine was the number one free app in the iOS App Store and by 2014, 25% of US teens were creating vines. Canadian pop star Shawn Mendes was discovered in 2014 after he began posting Vines of song covers.
Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 and in 2013 added 15-second videos, which quickly challenged Vine. Instagram also edged out Vine in terms of audience. On significant factor: due to its integration with Facebook, content creators didn’t need to go through the tedious process of building audience on a new platform. Instagram added a million users between March and December of 2014 alone.
That same year Snapchat burst onto the scene with it’s ephemeral photos and 10-second videos, called Snaps. By mid-2014 Snapchat began to overtake other social media apps.
Growth for Snapchat surged in 2015, rising from 50 million to 110 million daily active users in under two years.
By 2016, only 48% of Vine’s power users (those with over 10,000 followers) were still active, a defection that proved too difficult to course-correct. While Twitter says it will keep all existing Vines, it will be closing the app down in the near future. It was fun while it lasted!