New Twitter owner Elon Musk has a new vision for Twitter. Among the changes he wants to bring to the microblogging platform is reviving Vine, the short-form video app, which came much before TikTok and Instagram reels.
According to reports, Musk has asked engineers at Twitter to look at the old Vine code and assess if it could be returned.
On 31 October, the “Chief Twit” also posted a yes/no poll asking his followers, “Bring back Vine?” More than four million people voted, and 69.6 percent said yes.
What is Vine?
Vine was among the first short video platform apps that became popular in 2013. It was created by Dom Hoffman, Rus Yusupov, and Colin Kroll. It allowed users to make six-second video clips, which played on a loop. It is a predecessor to TikTok and Instagram reels and is said to be an inspiration for short-format videos, which are a big hit on social media today.
What happened to Vine?
Vine was acquired by Twitter in 2012 and was made public a year later. It was growing in popularity, with an active user base of more than 200 million people.
But Facebook played a significant role in killing Vine. It blocked the video app’s access to Facebook data, a decision that was personally approved by Mark Zuckerberg, according to leaked documents. Facebook cut off Vine’s access to its feature that allowed users to find and add their Facebook friends on the video platform. With this restriction, Vine suffered a setback. This gave a boost to Instagram and TikTok.
In October 2016, Twitter announced that it was ending Vine – users could no longer upload new content. However, they were able to access old videos. Two months on, the Vine website was shut down and released its successor, “Vine Camera,” as an app update on iOS and Android. However, it did not catch on. In 2017, Twitter released an archive of all Vine videos, which was taken down in 2019.
Why does Musk want to revive Vine?
By reviving Vine, Musk wants to take to TikTok. According to a report in Axios, the new Twitter owner has asked engineers to work on a Vine reboot by the end of the year. Twitter engineers have been asked to look at the video app’s old code base, which has not been updated since the shutdown.
Musk is considering bringing back Vine, keeping its revenue potential in mind. TikTok, banned in India, is the world’s most popular and top-grossing app. TikTok’s global app, along with its Chinese version Douyin on iOS, retained the position as the top-grossing non-game app across the App Store and Google Play combined, with approximately $914.4 million in consumer spending in the third quarter of 2022. In September, globally, the app generated $2.5 million daily on Android and iPhone devices, excluding the iPad.
According to Axios, Twitter has introduced new video features since 2016, but reviving Vine could give video creators a platform that sits somewhat apart from general Twitter discourse. A couple of weeks ago, Twitter started showing short-video formats via a new Suggested Videos section. It is the popular vertical scroll design that other platforms now have.
Apart from the poll on Vine, which was well-received, Musk asked, “What could we do to make it better?” He responded to popular YouTube creator Jimmy Donaldson, better known as MrBeast, who said that competing with TikTok would be “hilarious.”
Reviving Vine aligns with Musk’s goal of transforming Twitter into a “super app” similar to China’s WeChat. However, the timeline may not be practical.
Is a Vine reboot possible?
Vine’s code has not been updated since it shut down six years ago. A source told Axios that “it needs a lot of work.”
Bringing back the video app in the next two months will not be easy. Sara Beykpour, a former team member who worked at Vine, said the original software might be outdated. “This code is 6+ years old. Some of it is 10+. You don’t want to look there. If you want to revive Vine, you should start over,” she wrote on Twitter.
In September, Vine’s founder Rus Yusupov said that the app did not work because it did not have the right features at the time and failed to monetize.
According to a blog on Engadget, Vine will find it difficult to compete with TikTok and YouTube Shorts. “So much of TikTok’s success is a result of its “For You” algorithm, which always seems to know what videos will keep you glued to the app. Vine never had anything comparable, and many of its most prolific creators have moved on to other platforms,” it says.