Facebook today unveiled a highly anticipated video feature for its popular Instagram photo-sharing app, a foray that comes as mobile rivals circle its business.
In keeping with its status as king of stylized photos, Instagram will feature 13 filters for video. "What we did to photos we just did to video," said Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom at Facebook's headquarters here.
The updated Instagram app with video is available on Apple's App Store and Google's Play. In addition to its signature filters, Instagram will enable 15-second videos, custom cover frames and image stabilization.
The move by the world's largest social network underscores tense rivalry between Facebook and Twitter. Twitter's Vine short-form video service, launched in January, has amassed a fast following for its quirky and raw six-second videos.
"Image stabilization is a very appealing thing. It's a big product for Instagram that will be popular almost immediately. It may have a negative impact on Vine," said Opus Research analyst Greg Sterling.
Facebook has been unleashing a succession of ongoing defensive moves to capture restless mobile audiences in search of the next big thing.
"As our mobile strategy has evolved, we have focused on developing a number of different kinds of apps," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a brief appearance at the stage.
Snapchat, the app that enables self-destructing photos and videos, became a runaway hit, leading Facebook to unleash a similar service, called Poke. Snapchat ranks No. 9 on Apple's App Store.
Vine users posted more videos on Twitter than did Instagram's photo sharers earlier this month, according to measurement firm Topsy Analytics. Vine is the No. 3 iOS app, trailed by Instagram at No. 21. Instagram has more than 100 million active members; Vine has 13 million.
Facebook has made mobile its priority. Yet after a year as a public company its stock remains roughly 40% below its offering price of $38.
Under siege from mobile start-ups, Facebook is also at battle with Google's Google+ social network, matching features, as the companies duke it out for display advertising.
"There will be advertising associated with this. It may come six months from now, but there's no rush. They are going to be careful about it," said Sterling of Instagram's video rollout.
Digital video advertising is poised to boom. It's expected to surge 41% to $4.1 billion in the U.S. this year from $2.9 billion last year, says eMarketer. Mobile video advertising is expected to jump 112% to $518 million this year from last, according to the researcher.
The Instagram video launch is "critically important for Facebook because younger audiences' engagement with the social network is growing much less than overall growth," said Erich Joachimsthaler, CEO of Vivaldi Partners Group.