Talking tech since 2003

Yesterday, Instagram (owned by Facebook), released Instagram Video, a new feature that allows users to take 15 second video clips with the option to apply 13 different filters.  This is a feature Facebook is very proud of, as is clearly evident from Kevin Systrom’s (Instagram co-founder) remarks during the event, “What we did to photos, we just did to video,” he said.  While we can debate whether or not Instagram’s new video feature will make a dent in Vine’s popularity, I’m more interested in something else.

In the last few years, Facebook has rolled out several new features and apps that literally mimic other companies offerings.  While there’s nothing inherently wrong with trying to be competitive, a majority of these mimicked features and apps have “failed.”  Don’t believe me?  I came up of six instances of this, four of them have already failed, while the other two are still up in the air because they have just been released.  In that same time frame, Facebook has come up with three major innovations: Graph Search, Facebook Home, and the new Facebook News Feed.  Facebook Home has clearly not lived up to its potential, while most people only just got Graph Search after it was announced over six months ago, and the new Facebook News Feed has only been released to a very small percentage of the Facebook user base so far.

Places (Failed)

The original launch of Places seemed to be an all out assault on Foursquare, despite having partnered with them at launch.  However, Places quickly fizzled out after not much usage by Facebook users.  While it’s still on the site and in the app, it’s rarely used and hasn’t been given much focus by Facebook for quite some time.

Questions (Failed)

Facebook Questions was supposed to be Facebook’s entry into the Q&A market.  It received a lot of hype, but never really gained any traction and Facebook killed it.

Camera (Failed)

Facebook Camera was the company’s original answer to Instagram (you know, before Facebook acquired them).  The Camera app is not popular at all, it isn’t even within the top 200 free Photo and Video downloads in the App Store.  However, Instagram is currently sitting pretty at number one.  Snapchat is number two, if you were wondering.

Poke (Failed)

Speaking of Snapchat, Facebook Poke is the company’s attempt to respond to Snapchat, the new photo and video messaging app that is off the charts popular.  Meanwhile, Poke couldn’t poke Snapchat with a 200 foot pole, the app isn’t even listed in the top 200 Social Networking downloads on the App Store.

Instagram Video (TBD)

Instagram’s new video feature is clearly in response to Vine, the Twitter owned six second video sharing app.  Being that the feature was just released yesterday, it’s hard to tell whether or not it will make a dent in Vine popularity, however, Vine is still number two in all of the App Store’s free downloads, while Instagram sits at number five.  Both apps are currently number one in their respective App Store categories (Vine: Social Networking and Instagram: Photo & Video)

Hashtags (TBD)

Facebook recently introduced hashtags, a feature that was invented on Twitter to track and join in on conversations about a particular topic.  Facebook is hoping hashtags will be a way to increase participation in public conversations on the social network.  Whether that will be the case remains to be seen.

Has Facebook stopped innovating or are they just too focused on the trees and don’t see the forest around them?

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