Vine: From disruption to demise

We’re always on the look out for the next big thing – for technologies and platforms that promise to change the way we communicate. So it was three years ago, as part of a lunch and learn session here in the office, I presented ‘an introduction to Vine’.

Vine conjured up new forms of creativity by imposing the constraint that videos could last no more than a couple of seconds. It gave birth to host of catchphrases, jokes and hugely intelligent and engaging moments. But more importantly, it provided proof that Robert De Niro was right when he famously stated in a Wall Street Journal interview that you can tell a whole story in just six seconds.

My first attempt was none of those things:

But last week, Twitter announced that it would be shutting down the platform. And the news came as no surprise to us.

Although Vine had been an instant hit on both sides of the Atlantic when it was first launched, within just a couple of years brands and consumers were moving on to other video platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram, ultimately resulting in Vine’s slow, but not untimely demise.

A dive in popularity not dissimilar from the likes of Bebo and MySpace, and even less surprising due to the fact Twitter is now developing its own native video offering, the rise and fall of Vine offers some interesting lessons for the wider technology industry.

“Once you’ve changed the game, you have to keep breaking the rules in order to stay ahead of the other players”

Vine was a truly disruptive force (which I so enthusiastically put in my lunch & learn presentation). It created a “new market disruption” as Clay Christensen would put it; addressing a market that previously couldn’t be served. But the lesson here is that innovation is about more than just one disruptive instance; once you’ve changed the game, you have to keep breaking the rules in order to stay ahead of the other players.

Snapchat, recently rebranding itself as Snap Inc, has gained notoriety rapidly. Instagram was quick to support video, and Facebook has also made big strides recently in this area. All are adapting quickly to the marketplace where Vine neglected to do so. Although Vine quickly developed a large audience for content producers to engage with and showcase their content, it failed to provide a functional ad platform and therefore struggled to monetise itself. Top content producers moved to other social platforms, creating a deficit of new, engaging content. Of course, this meant that audiences slowly dwindled. And for brands with deep pockets, there are now easier options with broader consumer reach. Vine simply got left behind, with nowhere to go.

Perhaps Twitter faced the “Innovator’s Dilemma” when it came to Vine; meaning it was considered uneconomical to respond to market changes and new products that were disrupting the online video space, at a time when the platform was enjoying significant popularity. But their quiescence and lack of emphasis on innovation (whether for economical reasons or not) would ultimately result in Vine’s downfall.

As a tribute to a platform that shared so much joy in less than 6 seconds a pop, here are some of Cohesive’s all-time favourite Vines.

Starting with mine:

A football vine from Andy C (not surprisingly):

Jake’s choice (he said don’t ask why, so we didn’t):

Courtesy of Kate:

And just one more to leave you with:

Apparently it’s not just us who love Vines – animated GIF ambassador GIPHY loves them so much it has offered them a new home, via their app GIPHY ♥ Vine (if users are willing to embrace the endless loop!). Smart move GIPHY.

UPDATE 10.11.16 – It might not all be over for Vine! According to Tech Crunch, Twitter might try and sell the platform with five bidders in the running. But even if there is a future for Vine, there’s no doubt that it will have to change significantly to become economically viable – apparently the platform was costing Twitter a whopping $10 million a month, but some of the recent offers from bidders were reported to only be around $10 million themselves.

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