Personal Video sharing is broken!
Humans have the tendency to overlook simple things. That is because, most of the times simple things are too obvious to notice. But every now and then an entrepreneur notices a simple problem either because she herself is feeling the pain or some of her friends or early beta users are feeling that pain. When the entrepreneur sleeps over that pain for few days she suddenly realises that the obvious pain to her, is also a pain to millions of people but (in their busy lives) they have not realised it yet. That’s the eureka moment and that’s how companies like Uber, Airbnb, Dropbox, Instagram, Facebook etc are born! Guys like Travis, Drew, Kevin, Mark were able to feel that pain which became obvious (for others) only when these entrepreneurs built their products and services to alleviate that pain. Today, we look at these companies and think “how the hell was I able to live without it for so many years?”. Right?
Before they built these companies, these entrepreneurs were just smart, but after building them they became geniuses. The difference- just a mindful “observation”!
When we started building Vidzy, the idea was to build a great YouTube video discovery app, but our beta users quickly made us realise that there is a more severe pain which needs our attention- The pain of “personal video sharing”! At first we turned a blind eye towards it, thinking it’s too obvious and that someone might already be solving for it. But when we slept over it for few days and kept discussing among ourselves, our beta users and our friends, we started feeling the pain. And it was real! Once we realised the pain, there was just one question on our minds- “What is happening to those billions of videos which people are recording on their smartphones every day???” Answer- Nothing much. They either go on cloud and get stored, or on hard-drives and get stored, or remain on phones and get deleted later on. Only handful of them get shared on social networks and via messaging apps. But mostly, all of these videos just get lost or get buried among tons of other content on either cloud, computers or hard disks. We could suddenly SEE the obvious-
Personal video sharing is B-R-O-K-E-N!
Once we realised this, I made a comparison chart on a white board to understand what is happening. Why everyone has overlooked this problem? We have Snapchat, we have Whatsapp, Vine, Instagram, Periscope, Twitter, Facebook and biggest of ‘em all- YouTube. Still, surprisingly, “personal video sharing” is broken. When I tried to understand why, I started looking at each of these platforms carefully in quest for the answer:
Facebook might have been the best platform to solve personal video sharing & discovery problem, but it does not! Yes, Facebook is focused on videos. Yes, Facebook is coming up with a dedicated “Video” tab. Yes, you can share your videos on Facebook! But, how many times do you see your friends’ videos on Facebook? There is a reason for this- Facebook does not want you to share your personal videos and that’s why it does not motivate you to share more videos. Facebook videos are more about “killing YouTube” and “winning a good chunk of YouTube’s advertising pie” rather than solving “personal video sharing for users”. Today, 80% of your Facebook feed is videos (Yes, I came up with this number), but we seldom see a friend’s video getting shared. Punch me on my face if you think I’m wrong👊!
Snapchat is a great app for sharing moments (images+videos) and millions of people use it. Snapchat’s biggest advantage is “ephemeral content” which allows people to share without any fear and absolutely “freely”. But because of ephemeral nature the content does not create long term value for friends and people.
Both Instagram and Vine are great social apps with awesome content getting shared & discovered by people throughout the world. But Instagram is primarily a photo app which “also” does videos and that too “only 15 sec videos”. Vine is even shorter and majorly caters to semi-pro videographers. Moreover Vine is mostly used “just for fun!”. It does not again, solves the personal video sharing problem.
Live video broadcasting is a very interesting use case as it helps people become mini celebrities. Till now people mostly use it for selfie videos about what they are up to or where they are at (an extension of Snapchat behaviour). You can also watch some popular broadcasts later on, but primarily it’s for live video consumption. This also means the constant need to have good internet connectivity wherever you are and hence (mostly) low quality broadcasts. These platforms are “celebrity firsts” and hence do not encourage personal video sharing.
Messaging is the most widely used mean to share personal videos with close family and friends till now. You can argue that it’s enough and that’s what people need but I would like to disagree. Just like Instagram stretched the boundary of personal photo sharing, personal video sharing can also become bigger and better. Occasionally, you would also want to share videos with everyone, create value for a community, manage videos better to watch and share later with more people and easily control who can/can’t watch your videos. That’s where messaging apps lack and it’s a big opportunity. [Satwick wrote a detailed post on the evolution of videos and how it could kill photos]
It won’t be wise to leave YouTube from the list here but YouTube is not a place to share personal videos with family, friends and people (people actually yes). Also, YouTube is not social. It’s basically TV for internet audience with bigger and better choices. People do share personal videos sometime which also go viral (cats, dogs and kids) but mostly it’s for popular media consumption not for personal video consumption. (I know it’s as obvious as sky is blue 😜)!
What videos am I talking about?
Are you still confused what personal videos am I talking about? Well, I’m talking about those videos which are currently on your phone’s camera roll. Surprised? How many of them you shared with friends, family and others who might be interested in them? Did you store them on cloud or an external hard drive or deleted most of them without sharing? Videos of your last weekend’s getaway with loved ones, video of your kid acting in her first play school drama, video of your college club’s dance performance, video of the last food festival you were a part of or the last “live music” concert you went to. Those are the videos I’m talking about. Am I still making sense?
Why do we need a personal video sharing platform?
Humanity thrives as a result of sharing. Smartphones have given us tremendous power to take sharing to next level. It started with status sharing, moved on to idea sharing, then finally sharing of daily life pictures. Next obvious evolution is sharing of life’s experiences through videos (or moment sharing). It’s not a question of “if” anymore, it’s a question of “when”. It is bound to happen. As described above, many great platforms are trying to solve different aspects of video recording and sharing. However there are lot of gaps which need to be filled for a better personal video sharing experience-
- Fun way to share personal, recorded videos (of HD quality) with length greater than 15 seconds.
- Better way to discover those videos (no AUTOPLAY please 😠)
- Instant storage (for future download) and sharing of those videos with family, friends & others.
- Hashtag and people based video discovery (Instagram for videos).
- Powerful privacy features giving full control to users.
- A place only for video sharing, it’s time we start putting “Photos” and “Videos” as separate entities. Because, well, they are..
What the future could look like?
Imagine this- You are planning to visit San Francisco next month and instead of seeing photos of Golden Gate or reading blogs and reviews about Golden Gate you actually SEE it through the eyes of other friends and people who recently visited San Francisco. You watch videos recorded from various angels, through different cameras, of different lengths, having variety of people who visited San Francisco at different times of year. Wouldn’t that be an amazing experience?
Or imagine Yelp/Zomato, but instead of the restaurant/food’s photos you browse through videos which people recorded, capturing the essence of the place, the sizzling food and people’s live reactions. Wouldn’t that be mind-blowing?
Imagine a place where you can share and save any videos you want, throughout your life and make a “personal video library” which you can revisit any time. A place “exclusively” for videos, where you can capture a beautiful moment of your life and instantly share as well as save forever for future consumption or download. Don’t you want to see such a future? I definitely do and that’s the idea I’m sleeping on for past 3 months now 😀
Do you think I missed a great point? Or a cool idea to make personal video sharing even more amazing? Let me know in comments.