As Twitter refocuses, it says goodbye to Vine

Steven Loeb · October 27, 2016 · Short URL:

Vine was Twitter's first major push into video creation, but it was overshadowed by Snapchat

Twitter very obviously sees video as the key to its future, and for good reason. Its deal to stream Thursday Night Football games, as well as the Presidential debates, have given the company the right kind of buzz, and have even made it a potentially attractive acquisition target.

In a way, Twitter's acquisition of Vine back in 2012 can be seen as its first major step into the world of video creation. In that sense, it was a success, as it pushed the company toward an area that could prove to be its salvation. In any other sense, it was a failure, as Vine never caught on the way Twitter had hoped and is now being shut down. 

In a blog post on Thursday, the team at Vine revealed that its mobile app will be discontinued "in the coming months."

The Vines that have already been created will still be available to be viewed on the Web, and users can also download them. It doesn't sound like they will be able to create any new ones going forward, though.

"Nothing is happening to the apps, website or your Vines today. We value you, your Vines, and are going to do this the right way," the team wrote. "You will be notified before we make any changes to the app or website."

The life and death of Vine

Vine officially debuted in January of 2013, allowing users to make six-second long videos to share with friends. The format was revolutionary at the time, and it quickly caught on with users. It had 13 million users by the time its Android app came in June of that year. By August it had 40 million users. Things seemed to be going well, but then growth stalled.

The easy answer as to what happened to Vine is Instagram, and then, more importantly, Snapchat, both of which took the same idea and ran with it, leaving Vine behind.

It didn't take Instagram long to debut its own video feature, coming only six months after Vine became available. The general consensus at the time was that it would prove to be a Vine killer. After all, Instagram had over 100 million users at the time. 

There were also indications that Vine's numbers were skewed: it was counting the total number of people who had downloaded the app, not who were actually using it. 

The real death blow, though, came with the rocketship known as Snapchat. That app has proven to be so popular that is has actually surpassed Facebook in number of video views. Users had multiple options for where to go to create and share short videos; they chose Snapchat. Instagram wasn't hurt, as its main function remained as a photo sharing app; the app actually passed 500 million users in June, doubling the number in two years. Vine had no such fallback.

The app has also been overshadowed by another Twitter-owned video property: live streaming app Periscope, which reached 200 million broadcasts in one year. 

There have been signs for a while that Vine was in trouble, including reports of numerous departures earlier this year, including its head of engineering, head of business development and operations, head of user experience and head of editorial.

All of its co-founders left the company as well, including Dom Hofmann, who departed in early 2014, and Colin Kroll, who left the same year. That left only Russ Yusupov, who was laid off last year as part of the 8 percent of Twitter employees who were let go last year.

Still, despite all of those issues, Vine proved to be quite popular, with a high ranking in the App Store, remaining in the top 100 apps in the U.S. until late last year. It has since fallen all the way down to number 284, though it is still number 24 in the photo and video category.

Twitter restructures

Twitter is killing off Vine as it restructures, and puts its focus back on its core product. 

"Our strategy is directly driving growth in audience and engagement, with an acceleration in year-over-year growth for daily active usage, Tweet impressions, and time spent for the second consecutive quarter," Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, said in a statement in the company's Q3 earnings report on Thursday.

"We see a significant opportunity to increase growth as we continue to improve the core service. We have a clear plan, and we're making the necessary changes to ensure Twitter is positioned for long-term growth. The key drivers of future revenue growth are trending positive, and we remain confident in Twitter's future."

That process also led to the company laying off 9 percent of its staff, or 350 workers, mostly from the sales team, but apparently from Vine as well.

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