Instagram to launch its TikTok-like short video feature ‘Reels’ in India today

Instagram will launch the testing of ‘Reels’, a short video feature similar to TikTok’s format, in India starting today at 7:30pm.

As the Chinese app TikTok remained unavailable in India following a government ban, the Facebook-owned app became the latest to launch a video feature that mimics TikTok’s main value proposition.

Called ‘Reels’, it is a feature that allows users to make 15-second videos. The Facebook-owned app had been testing Reels in other countries such as Brazil, Germany, and France.

The short video success

TikTok’s claim to fame was its short videos that could be edited and produced on the app itself. Its nifty, user-friendly format made TikTok one of the world’s most popular apps, and helped create a whole micro economy that even saw careers launch.

India, which saw people from both urban and rural regions take to the app, became TikTok’s largest user base with around 200 million users.

Instagram’s TikTok moment

According to a Techcrunch report, Instagram’s decision to extend Reels to India was not related to the ban on 59 Chinese apps that included TikTok.

However, in an email interaction with ThePrint on 7 July, a Facebook spokesperson said: “We’re planning to start testing an updated version of Reels in more countries … No further plans to share on launch date or countries for now.”

According to a press release issued Wednesday, Ajit Mohan, vice-president and managing director, Facebook India, said, “With the rise in video consumption overall and videos making up over a third of posts on Instagram in India, Instagram has a big role to play in unleashing expression in the country. People across the big and small cities of India come to Instagram to express themselves safely, and also to be entertained.

“With Reels, we’re unveiling the future of entertainment on the platform, in a way that ignites creativity. With the multiple creative formats, whichever way you want to express yourself, it can now be on Instagram.”

The Techcrunch report, citing mobile insights firm App Annie, states Instagram has 165 million active users in India per month.

Since the Chinese app ban on 29 June, a host of apps have been capitalising on the sudden void. Most of these apps have in fact been trying to replace TikTok, arguably the most popular app to be on the ban list.

Among these are Chingari, Mitron, Roposo, and Twitter-backed ShareChat’s new app Moj.

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