Can Viddy beat Instagram?

by Dan Kricke

The hunt for the next big app never ceases. Everyone on the high seas of the tech world is an unquenchable Captain Ahab looking for the next Moby Dick. Except, when they actually find their white whale and spear it, they immediately want to find another one. The hot new pick to be the next big app looks to be the video-sharing service Viddy thanks to its Instagram-like features and famous new user. But will it really blow up as much as investors who are hoping for an $800 million app hope it will?

It just might. The addition of Mark Zuckerberg to the app’s unbelievable 10 million-strong user base certainly makes the case that this is an app worth looking into. Zuckerberg certainly thinks it is, and he’s made (and spent) a few dollars in his day. But feature-wise, it’s worth looking at Instagram to see if Viddy has the same solid feature set to support staying power like the last next-big-app.

One area that worked extremely well for Instagram that simply doesn’t for Viddy is the medium for each app. Instagram didn’t change photography. It just put basic editing tools right into its users’ hands. It didn’t limit photos to thumbnail images or a format that seemed frustrating in some way.

Viddy does limit its users. Viddy’s current upload policy calls for video length to be capped at 15 seconds. That’s insanely short. It actually reminds me of the Chappelle’s Show skit where Dave puts on a comedy special that’s only two minutes long, so he only makes it through the introduction. With users used to uploading videos to YouTube that can last as long as 10 minutes, it’s hard to see how willing people will be to adapt once the app is no longer cool and new.

On the other hand, Twitter took conversations down to their essential bits and became a huge success because of it. Twitter’s 140 character limit has forced users to become extremely creative when sending tweets or risk the ire of their peers and followers by overtweeting.

Both Instagram and Viddy do provide easy outlets for features you used to need 100-dollar programs to accomplish in the past. Just like with Instagram, Viddy users can easily add visual effects to change how their video looks with just a few quick taps. To have that sort of power in a free app is very cool.

Despite their similar feature sets, I’ll be very surprised if Viddy becomes as ubiquitous as Instagram. That 15-second time limit still seems like a killer to me. Maybe they’ll increase it or maybe I’m completely wrong. But outside of right-place-right-time videos that show something amazing happening in a short amount of time, I can’t see that many possibilities for such a short window of video. Then again, where there’s a Zuckerberg, there’s a way.

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