Vine Reflects Bandwidth and Quality Limits

There’s much ado about Vine these days. In addition to the usual porn issues, most of the controversy surrounds the video network’s six second format. Like it or not, the six second format is ideal for bandwidth constrained 4G powered devices.

Marketers are already experimenting with the weeks old social network bolt-on. But to me, it’s too early for that conversation. What’s fascinating is the medium itself and how it fits into the larger social context.

First, consider that Vine is the video short equivalent of Instagram. Load time is critical for a long stream of videos, especially given it’s mostly viewed on devices leveraging wireless carrier networks.

Competitors like Viddy and Keek also have short video formats, 15 and 36 seconds respectively. But even Vine still suffers in low bandwidth situations as I found out at a packed concert on Sunday night.

A functional stream is critical for the Vine user experience. If you are promised short videos, they better load quickly into the stream most of the time.

Lack of bandwidth handicapped video network predecessors Seesmic and ooVoo. Both networks failed to break out during the 3G era. Load time crippled user experiences. People still can’t share minute long videos successfully in less than optimal conditions.

Frankly, both Instagram and Flickr mobile suffer from shoddy photo load time in low bandwidth environments. Video is bandwidth intense, creating even more demand on load time.

Format Blinds Bad Video

Vine, Twitter
Image by clasesdeperiodismo

A second critical equation is individual personal tolerance for bad video. People have little time for boring, poor quality video.

Good video production includes story, lighting, sound, shooting, acting, editorial direction, editing and more. Compared to any other form of content, video is the most difficult to produce.

Now Twitter claims it architected Vine’s six second format to resolve this second issue. Specifically, the short form will keep people’s attention in spite of the poor quality. And maybe six seconds versus 15 or 36 seconds is the ideal bad video tolerance point.

The truth about Vine videos is that generally they suck. Like Instagram photos, they significantly lower the quality standard for video. And like Instagram, these bad videos may actually highlight the value of good video because it will inevitably stand out in comparison.

Vine is a smartly engineered product that reflects the limitations of the networks it runs on and its users’ capabilities. Successful future video and photo networks will also reflect intelligent user experience design and product marketing.

What do you think of Vine?