The merry-go-round of social apps grabbing one another’s features continues. Instagram is simultaneously getting a little more like Periscope and a little more like Snapchat.
On the former count, Instagram users can now broadcast live videos within the app’s ‘stories’ section. “Just swipe right from feed to open the camera, tap the ‘Start Live Video’ button and start sharing for up to an hour,” explained Instagram yesterday. Due to roll out in the coming weeks, the live broadcasts will disappear when finished, rather than be archived. We expect to see some of the more Instagram-friendly artists using the live video feature.
Meanwhile, Instagram is adding features comparable to Snapchat’s origins with disappearing photos and videos in its Instagram Direct (i.e. its messaging) feature. “Unlike other messages in Direct, these photos and videos disappear from your friends’ inboxes after they have seen them. And you’ll see if they replayed it or took a screenshot,” explained Instagram, which claims Direct has grown from 80 million to 300 million monthly active users in the last year.
That represents under-the-radar growth for Instagram as a messaging app, even if Direct is some way short of the billion-plus active users of fellow Facebook-owned apps WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. It’s these three apps, plus the live video and news feed of Facebook’s main app and – a little further out – its Oculus VR business that will make the Facebook family such an interesting distribution ecosystem if (well, realistically ‘when’) it makes its long-awaited move into music.
The question is what other cogs could spin within this ecosystem? Musical.ly-style UGC (or by acquisition, Musical.ly itself)? A proper music-videos platform (or Vevo)? Full-on audio-streaming (or Spotify?). Although it can be easier to focus on Facebook’s individual apps – Instagram in today’s example – how its entire collection meshes together is what might make Facebook the most interesting company in the music/tech space in 2017.