Instagram Launches Reels In India And The U.S, Taking Advantage Of The Recent Ban On The Chinese App

Aadhya Khatri - Aug 06, 2020


Instagram Launches Reels In India And The U.S, Taking Advantage Of The Recent Ban On The Chinese App

Reels, Instagram’s effort to take on TikTok was officially launched yesterday. The new feature has been made available in 50 nations around the globe

Reels, Instagram’s effort to take on TikTok was officially launched yesterday. The new feature has been made available in 50 nations around the globe, including some large international markets including India, Germany, France, Brazil, and some others like Japan, the U.K, Spain, Argentina, and Australia.

Given TikTok’s uncertain future in two of the world’s largest markets, India and the U.S, the launch is hardly fortuitous.

Facebook’s attempt to compete with TikTok has been made public long before India-China border conflict and Trump’s plan to ban the Chinese platform for short-form videos took place.

Instagram Reels app TikTok
Reels, Instagram’s effort to take on TikTok was officially launched yesterday

In 2018, the company launched Lasso, a similar app to TikTok. Unfortunately, this is yet another failure so Facebook recently axed it.

While Lasso didn’t bring Facebook the market share it wants from TikTok, its large scale tests have collected enough user data for the company to build its predecessors, like Instagram’s Reels.

Reels tests were conducted after those for Lasso in Brazil in November last year under the name Cenas. The results Facebook wanted to achieve is the users’ reaction to the new experience.

The tests later expanded to outside of the U.S border to prominent markets like Europe and India in 2020.

With the launch of Reels, Instagram doesn’t only want to attract the users left behind by TikTok after the ban, but it also wants to compete for the Chinese app’s market even if it is here to stay.

Instagram Reels launch 1
With the launch of Reels, Instagram doesn’t only want to attract the users left behind by TikTok after the ban

Instagram is the playground of certain kinds of users who don’t usually see TikTok as a suitable platform for them. On the photo-sharing site, we often see more polished pictures, casual and personal Stories, and YouTube-quality IGTV videos. However, one of Instagram’s most serious disadvantage is its lack of a mechanism to let users swipe through videos.

This is where Reels comes into play. The feature comes equipped with a new set of tools for editing, including countdown timer, AR effects, a align tool and music.

Instagram has also made deals with several record labels to make sure that users can use popular songs and track in their 15-second long video without worrying that it will later be removed.

The audio catalog Reels offers is a huge competitive edge as this isn’t something smaller apps can achieve with record labels.

When users give up on TikTok when news of its potential ban in the U.S broke out, what they complain the most is the lack of popular songs and sounds.

Instagram is well aware that to compete with TikTok, music plays an as important part as discovery, workflow, and tools. The Chinese app has its own deal with record labels but it hasn’t been made public yet.

Reels music deal
Instagram has also made deals with several record labels to make sure that users can use popular songs and track in their 15-second long video

According to Vishal Shah, Instagram’s head of Product, the company launches Reels in countries where they have the right to using music. He said their catalog was quite extensive with songs users can hardly find on other similar apps.

Shah fails to mention an important detail. Instagram doesn’t only have deals with record labels, it has also worked with independents and other publishers. This is part of its partnership and negotiations that are fueling other products of Facebook, like Music videos.

Reels has another advantage – it’s built right onto the Instagram Camera users are familiar with. To use it, all users have to do is to choose the option under Camera, right next to Story. After that, a list of editing tools will pop up.

If you are not ready to publish your Reel, it can be saved in Draft, much like other work-in-progress content of Instagram. Reels can appear on surfaces like DM, Stories and Stories with Close Friends.

Those who want to publish it to a wider audience can do so and other users can discover new content within a new section in Explore.

Instagram Reels launch
Those who want to publish it to a wider audience can do so and other users can discover new content within a new section in Explore

You can give Reels caption, hashtags, and also tag friends. This move is to help the feature quickly go viral by leveraging Instagram’s huge existing user base.

From Explore, users will be greeted with a vertical feed curated according to what they like. The featured Reels are those chosen by Instagram to help you explore new content.

In short, the new feature borrows a lot from TikTok but isn’t exactly a direct clone of the Chinese app. Instagram turns the entirety of the short-video sharing platform into a single feature in its main app, alongside other like IGTV and Stories.

This is the recipe for success. Instagram’s Stories, which share a striking resemblance to Snapchat, develop in the exact same way.

However, the competition is by no means easy for Instagram. TikTok has a user base who literally grew up with Musical.ly and will choose the app over almost everything else.

>>> Trump Wants A Large Cut Of TikTok Sale Price, Chinese Media Called This An Open Robbery

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