Instagram is trialling a new video-music remix feature named ‘Reels’ as a direct response to the success of Chinese app TikTok.
According to reports in TechCrunch, Instagram is currently trialling the feature in Brazil, where it is called ‘cenas’.
Users can make 15-second video clips set to music and share them as Instagram Stories. There will also be a ‘Top Reels’ section in the explore tab, giving users the same opportunity to go viral as TikTok.
“I think Musically (TikTok’s previous name) before TikTok, and TikTok deserve a ton of credit for popularizing this format,” Instagram director of product management Robby Stein told TechCrunch.
Although he applauded the product TikTok has created, Stein doesn’t think Instagram is simply copying its Chinese rival.
“No two products are exactly the same, and at the end of the day, sharing video with music is a pretty universal idea we think everyone might be interested in using. The focus has been on how to make this a unique format for us,” he said.
Much like when Facebook invented the ‘feed’ and LinkedIn and Twitter soon utilised it, or when Google took the pre-existing concept of webmail and created Gmail, Instagram can – and will – argue that no one truly owns an idea when it comes to social media.
Instagram head Adam Mosseri also wasn’t shying away from the TikTik comparisons, tweeting this to TechCrunch’s editor-at-large Josh Constine.
Love the phrase ‘remarkably decent,’ high praise for sure given how much you love TikTok, ??
— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) November 12, 2019
It is all quite reminiscent of when Instagram debuted Stories as its answer to Snapchat in 2016.
At the time, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom acknowledged the idea came from Snap, telling the media “they (Snap) deserve all the credit”.
“This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it,” Systrom said.
But what Instagram argued then, and what it will argue now with Reels, is that no other platform has the same scale to leverage.
“Your friends are already all on Instagram. I think that’s only true of Instagram,” Stein said on Reels.
It is still unclear when Reels will be publically available.
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