Instagram finally has a feature that it's long been missing: support for video.
According to CEO and Co-founder Kevin Systrom, it's a function Instagram wanted to add from the start, but since the company is all about simplicity, the time and technology weren't right until now.
Motion pictures of up to 15 seconds can now be captured via the Instagram app, version 4.0.0, and while Video on Instagram now turns its 130 million monthly users into time-constrained film makers, a few questions remain.
Systrom addressed a number in a post-press conference Q&A at Facebook's Menlo Park headquarters earlier today.
The elephant in the room was how Video on Instagram stacks up to Vine and its six-second clips.
"I think it's an artistic choice, honestly," Systrom said of which video length is preferable. "I don't think that one is better than the other.
"Depending on the length of time you give the user, you're going to get different content.
"In our testing, we tried a bunch of different lengths, and we came out on 15 seconds as that Goldilocks moment of, it feels just right. Not too long in which case the video takes too long to download on the go. Not too short in that you're trying to record your kid and you don't get that special moment.
"That, plus the editing tools, gave us the right balance."
Ads, ownership and censorship
"I did not expect an advertising question," Systrom quipped when asked about businesses using video to make "bad Calvin Klein" videos, as one audience member put it.
"This is really driven by consumer demand and not by business," he then answered.
"Instagram – I've said multiple times – will always become a business over time. I think we have so many brands…all using Instagram to reach their fans. I think there's a natural business opportunity there.
"But on video, I don't think we designed it with any advertising in mind. We started with the user. I think over time, we'll figure how advertising in general…regardless of the medium, it ends up being OK on Instagram in a useful way for users and for businesses.
"But for right now, we're perfectly happy with how businesses are engaging with Instagram, which is organically."
Additionally, Systrom shot down the notion that Instagram would use or manipulate user-generated videos.
"No. No, no, no," Systrom said. "Something we've made really clear, especially after the Terms of Service update that we had the confusion around who owns the photos and what we're going to do with photos, photos and videos very clearly – and I want to say this very clearly – they're your own. Instagram does not own them.
"They are your photos and your videos. We have no plans to use photos or videos in any kind of advertisements."
With video naturally comes the chances we could see some NSFW content played out in 15-second clips. Systrom said there are systems in place right now to prevent inappropriate videos from circling on Instagram, though "community patrolling" is the first step in the process.
"We actually have a really, really well defined and mature process for reviewing photos and now video," he explained, noting that Instagram can advantageously leverage Facebook's own monitoring systems.
"We have a team that reviews videos that come in that are flagged, from Day One, by the way, starting right now."
Later, Systrom noted there are both human and technological methods in place to monitor flagged videos.
And while the Instagram app on iOS and Android is getting some cinematic attention, the public may be curious if the video (or Instagram itself) will ever end up on Windows Phone.
"Windows Phone is a really interesting technology," Systrom said to such a question. "It's an up and coming OS. They've been doing really well. We don't have anything to announce right now, but we've talked to them about their platform and we're learning."
One last plug: Systrom said he's never used Google Glass, so if anyone has a pair they're willing to lend, we're pretty sure you can track him down on Instagram.
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