Twitter-owned Vine rose to prominence with its looping 6-second videos, a creative constraint that created a notably diverse and entertaining playground. But almost four years after launching, the company has seen its early lead in social video evaporate in the face of competition from the likes of Facebook, Snapchat, and newer players like Musical.ly. In part that's because the platform hasn't evolved: while vines are organized differently in the app than they used to be, it's fundamentally still a place to watch 6-second loops. That begins to change today as the company rolls out video attachments of up to 140 seconds, allowing for longer clips that effectively turn the vine itself into a movie trailer.
Vine is calling the move an experiment, but said it plans to roll-out the ability to post longer clips to more users over time. It's starting with a hand-picked selection of its biggest stars — many of whom have grown increasingly unhappy about the service's glacial pace of development. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that influential creators are leaving the service for a variety of reasons, including that their audiences migrating to other platforms and that they have few ways to make money from the vines they create.
Vine is viewed as a kind of backwater internally at Twitter, which has lavished attention on its live-streaming app Periscope as Vine has languished. Vine doesn't disclose user numbers, but says its loops are viewed by 200 million people a month. (Snapchat is said to have 150 million users a day.) But video platforms are all the rage among advertising-supported social networks, because video ads sell at much higher prices. One reason Vine is adding attachments is that they will be eligible for Amplify, a Twitter service that adds advertisements to video clips and shares revenue with the creators.
As part of today's announcements, Twitter said it is lifting its own limit on video uploads from 30 seconds to 140 seconds. (Some favored creators are allowed to publish even longer videos, and so you'll see some vine attachments that go beyond the new limit.) Twitter is also adding a carousel of suggested videos underneath the full-screen video viewer in a further effort to boost consumption there.
If you squint here, it looks like the future of Vine could be serving as Twitter's primary place for watching video of all kinds. The 6-second loops will now be joined by longer videos, and maybe someday Periscopes will find a home there as well. When Vine embraced the idea that it is primarily an entertainment app, it opened the door to allow other forms of entertainment to find a home there. With video attachments, that vision is taking a belated step forward.