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?


  • It does suit my purpose. I take an image everyday (, sometimes wanting video. Because I use a 1:1 ratio and only use my iPhone, my choices are limited… Vine fills that need, however short (but long enough) and of poor quality (but just good enough) it is. Well, for now anyway.

    • I agree, I really do think it’s good for the average life about town. It’s a good medium.

  • It’s a foothold into a new niche for Twitter. What will it look like in a year or two? I think a lot of people and companies will be making nice little video postcards, especially as the product matures and improves.

    By and large, I’m losing my ability to get excited about new tweaks to social platforms. :-)

  • It suits my purpose. I post a photo to Flickr every day ( and sometimes a video. Because of the 1:1 ratio I use and only ever my iPhone the video possibilities are limited (unless you have a suggestion).
    The 6 seconds is long enough, the quality is good enough, so Vine does serve a purpose.., for now…

  • Hi Geoff,

    I always appreciate your posts and this one was helpful in understanding the broader questions about Vine’s future.

    My two cents:

    I appreciate that the video quality is low but I love the raw nature of it. And you are correct, I can tolerate a short, low quality video. The looping feature makes it entertaining too and adds a funny factor. The fact that it can be produced with almost no effort is just fun and feels impetuous which could lead to some cool material, at least some of the time!

    Overall, thumbs up on Vine. I like it.


  • I had no interest in it and then Ann Handley got all addicted and I think it was contagious. Well, I’m not addicted, but let’s just say she has my attention so I started playing with it. :)

    Totally agree that it’s early in the conversation. My thought is it takes a TON of creativity to pull something really good off in 6 seconds of video. :) I’ll be curious to watch this unfold.

    • It’s very Instagrammy, sans the filters, don’t you think?

      • It’s very Instagrammy, and I actually love Instagram. I don’t love Vine yet. We’ll see. It actually took me a long time to love Instagram now that i think about it.

  • Pingback:Remain Teachable | Geoff Livingston's Blog

    […] That’s why I played with Vine in the past week even though I really didn’t want to. And I saw some things that made me think this platform may succeed where other video networks failed. […]

  • I think one of the issues we folks have is not understanding how media is getting shared in the youth market. Vine may not be made for us. Like Snapchat it appeals to people who want to share videos quickly and chat with friends. There isn’t any reason for it to he high quality because the focus isn’t the video at all. Just the experience of sharing. I should disclose that I can’t even use Vine! I have a dumb phone and I am therefore left out of the experience all together. *lol*

    • Good point. This is a lot like Instagram in the sense that it’s really not designed for pro photgraphy, though pros do use it. It’s for the people

  • Haven’t tried it yet. What can I say in 6 seconds?!? However, I’ve been monitoring the buzz about it, and I’m sure I’ll toy with it in the future.

    I did write a 12 Most ABCs of Leadership series…guess I could break each one of those words out into a 6-second spot. Or have some other word/quote of the day.

    Otherwise, you are either “saying hi” or coming across too promotional in a 6-second spot, right?

    • I do like the format. I’m having fun with experimenting. Mostly goofy kid videos. What can you say, it’s Instagrammy and I fell for that, too. LOL!

Comments are closed