Tech

Facebook releases its second attempt to copy rival TikTok by leveraging Instagram's popularity

Key Points
  • Instagram's short-form video feature, Reels, launched Wednesday. 
  • Instagram is swooping in at a vulnerable time for its largest competitor, TikTok. 
  • Reels allows users to create 15-second clips, like TikTok, and share them publicly or with friends within the Instagram app.

Instagram launched its short-form video feature, Reels, broadly on Wednesday, in an effort to compete with the rapidly-growing TikTok.

Instead of operating as a separate app, Reels can be found within the Instagram app itself by selecting "Reels" at the bottom of the Instagram camera. Reels allows users to create 15-second clips, like TikTok, and share them publicly or with friends within the Instagram app.

The editing software operates much like TikTok. Users can overlay audio, select augmented reality effects and upload video clips in a similar manner. 

Reels was launched in Brazil last November and Instagram expanded it to France and Germany in June and India in July. It's now available in the U.S. and several other markets.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, has a poor track record cloning popular social media apps. It recently shut down its Lasso app, which its first attempt to copy TikTok with a stand-alone app. Facebook also recently shut down Hobbi, an app designed to compete with Pinterest. The company has had much better success adding popular features from rivals into Instagram and the regular Facebook app, like when it added the "Stories" feature based on Snapchat

"Reels gives people new ways to express themselves, discover more of what they love on Instagram and help anyone with the ambition of becoming a creator take center stage," the company said in a blog post

Instagram announces new video product
Source: Instagram
Source: Jessica Bursztynsky via TikTok

Facebook-owned Instagram is swooping in at a vulnerable time for its largest competitor, TikTok. The Trump administration has set its eyes on TikTok, pushing its Chinese parent company ByteDance to divest the fast-growing segment and sell to a company based in the U.S., or risk being banned over national security concerns. 

Microsoft has since emerged as the leading candidate to take over the bulk of TikTok and could conclude talks within three weeks, CNBC's David Faber reported Wednesday.

Launching through Instagram, while the focus is on TikTok's issues, could bode well for Reels. 

"We are in a place where we have to be willing to acknowledge when someone did something awesome and try to learn from it," Instagram chief Adam Mosseri told NBC News earlier this year, speaking about Snapchat. 

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