As Twitter refocuses, it says goodbye to Vine

Steven Loeb · October 27, 2016 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/47ef

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.

(Image source: androidcommunity.com)

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.

 

What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.