Vine — One of the Most Successful Failed Products

Does anybody remember Vine? Yep, that 6-second video-based social media channel that once was so popular that you have probably seen at least one of the videos before… but sadly, not any more.

Funded in June 2012, Vine was one of the most innovative products at the time. It is created for people to share snippets of their life within a 6 second time limit, with editing functions like adding music and creating loop. Creators tend to get very creative in the platforms. This product quickly got attentions from many giant companies. It was described as the “near-perfect” video analog to its flagship app’s short-form text posts by Twitter, which later bought Vine. By October 2013, Vine was named one of the most fast-growing apps in the world, with eventually 200 million users at peak (in 2015).

However, the success didn’t last too long. Vine quickly lost its popularity — In 2016, the downloads of Vine dropped a massive 50%. And nowadays people seem to already have forgotten about Vine… well at least I did until I was writing this article. So why is that? Well, to simply put — Vine just couldn’t keep up.

But we will dig deeper into it and break it down to these:

  1. The strong competitors.

Around the same time that Vine was gaining popularity, so were some not-so-little apps called Snapchat and Instagram. Unlike Vine which is a simple video app, Instagram allows more comprehensive sets of sharing and social functions, while Snapchat has unique features like burn-after-read. With Instagram and Snapchat booming strong, Vine really lost its competitive advantages to these two products.

2. Vine never adapted.

In a world where trends and buyers change rapidly, it’s important for products to keep adapted at all times. In the video-based social media market, users quickly realized they need more time limit to share their creations. Instagram allows videos of 15 seconds (and later implemented reels and IGTV which is up to one minute or more). Snapchat allows videos of 15 seconds each clip but allows multiple clips at once. TikTok changed its time limit to 15s to 60s as well. But for Vine, it never changed. A 6 second video is a very very short video — and Vine stuck to it.

3. There is no money.

You may be surprised that there is no money for such a popular app… trust me, I was surprised too. But that is true. Vine didn’t have a proper monetization plan at the time. It didn’t optimize its potential uses of advertising (even it had so many opportunities). So of course, it couldn’t pay for its creators either. As creators and influencers continue growing in this digital space, getting paid has become essential for the the amount of time and effort they put in. Because Vine couldn’t think of a way to earn profits at the first place, they lost their creators as well.

Well, it is certainly sad to see that Vine has now become one of the most successful failed apps. But it has also left us room to think — What we can learn from it?

  • Invest in research and development is essential. In a rapidly changing digital world, it is importabt to go further and develop the product to accellerate the envoilving needs of users.

Although it is unlikely to see, but I do hope to see Vine make a comeback one day.