16 companies that beat Instagram to video clips

Instagram's got video now, but what's the big deal? These 16 services got there first, though only a few have proven successful.

Josh Lowensohn
1 of 17 Instagram

Instagram gets video

Instagram on Thursday introduced video, a much rumored feature that lets users shoot brief clips that can be shared just like photos.

The Facebook-owned service is not the first to take a crack at the concept, though there's been a ton of variation, and some early efforts date all the way back to 2008.

Click through to hear about 16 companies that have ventured into short video, and what happened to them.

2 of 17 CNET

Yahoo's Flickr in 2008

For direct comparisons to popular photo-sharing services expanding into video, look no further than Yahoo's Flickr, which added the feature in 2008.

Initially the feature was limited to paying Pro members, who could upload clips up to 90 seconds in length, and 150MB in size. That limit was later changed to 500MB, then 1GB uploads and 3 minute video clips as part of Flickr’s big overhaul in May. The idea was originally pitched as a "long photograph" with a burgeoning crop of digital SLRs adding hi-def video functionality.

3 of 17 WayBackMachine

12Seconds in 2008

12Seconds was way ahead of its time with a service that let you record 12-second video clips and post them to the Web. When it first jumped onto the iPhone, there was no video recording available to developers, so its creators got around that by offering a slideshow feature that people could add audio to. A year later, in 2009, the company finally offered a way to shoot and post from phones that would send those clips straight to Twitter. The service shut down in the fall of 2010, in part because Twitter users were already finding other places to host their videos, including Twitter clients that would do it without requiring you to leave the app.

4 of 17 GNZO

Gnzo in 2010

Formerly “Gunzoo,” Gnzo offers six seconds of video capture. Its killer feature is to play multiple videos on the same screen at once, something the company says makes it easier to find videos in a large group. The service is still up and running.

5 of 17 Tout

Tout in 2011

Seemingly unconcerned by the failure of 12Seconds, Tout debuted in early 2011, offering people a way to record and share -- wait for it -- 11-second videos. The idea stemmed from research that showed most people got bored of Internet videos after just nine seconds (editor’s note: not sure if that data includes cat videos). Worth noting is that the service also lets you grab 11-second snippets from Web videos. It’s since expanded to 15-second clips, and is chock full of celebrities.

6 of 17

Vlix in 2011

Vlix’s claim to fame was keeping things brief, with 1-minute recording times and plenty of filters and effects that could be applied to videos. The company maintains its own social network of users who can follow one another. While still around, its iPhone app (pictured) hasn’t been updated in more than a year.

7 of 17 SocialCam

SocialCam in 2011

SocialCam was a spinoff from Justin.tv, a service that had roots in live video streaming. Its app took off, netting 16 million downloads on iOS and Android in its first year and a half. Its angle was to be an Instagram for video, with 15-second recording time, a limit that was later set to unlimited. The company was acquired by software maker Autodesk for $60 million last July, and lives on.

8 of 17 Viddy

Viddy in 2011

Viddy came onto the scene in 2011 with a simple concept: You’ve got 15 seconds to record whatever you want. After that, the big draw was tools to edit that video with filters -- a la Instagram -- in order to put an artistic touch on it. The company’s since doubled the video length to 30 seconds and offered ways to add music and other video editing effects.

9 of 17 Klip

Klip in 2011

Like its name, Klip originally began with a way to record and share quick, 1-minute clips that could be shared with other Klip users, or out to existing social networks. The company has since added real-time video filters and tripled recording length.

10 of 17 Recood

Recood in 2011

Recood records 10 seconds of video for sharing, though its paid “pro” version ramps that up to a full minute. The app lets you add filters to your videos, which can be purchased with in-app currency in the free version.

11 of 17 Keek

Keek in 2011

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but Keek was designed for blasting out short videos. In this case, the time limit was -- and remains -- 36 seconds.

There are apps for iPhone and Android, along with a normal Web site for viewing. As usual, messages can be sent out to more popular social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

12 of 17 Vloggo

Vloggo in 2012

This service let users record up to 60 seconds of video, though dispatches could be shorter. Its site and apps can no longer be found, and its Twitter feed is no longer active.

13 of 17 Cinemagram

Cinemagram in 2012

Cinemagram turns four seconds of video into looping animations that can be tweaked with filters and effects. You can also adjust which parts of the video are animated, leading to some eye-catching results. The app has its own network of people you can subscribe to, and you can also blast out creations to Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

Is it truly a video app? That's certainly up for debate. We're including it anyway.

14 of 17 Ecograph

Ecograph in 2012

Just like Cinemagram, Echograph (which launched a few months later) lets you capture quick videos and set which parts you want to animate before sharing. Clips can be up to 5 seconds in length and shared between members, or out to broader social networks. Video giant Vimeo snapped the company up back in February.

15 of 17 Lightt

Lightt in 2012

Lightt captures 10-second clips that can be turned into looping GIFs of sorts. There’s a built-in editor to tweak individual frames, and cut out things you don’t want -- including sound. Like many others, there’s an integrated social network where you can view, like and share other people’s creations. But unlike many of the others on this list, Lightt’s style is really stop-motion movies from short video clips, not just quick splices of video.

16 of 17 Vigi


Vigi's big thing is looping short video clips snapped on iPhones, along with providing ways to trim them down before sending to Twitter and Facebook. Users can also add simple video overlays and sounds.

You can find it on iTunes.

17 of 17 CNET

Vine in 2013

Of course with Thursday's Instagram news, all eyes turn to Vine, which is similar in a number of ways.

The general idea is to let users record six-second (or less) video clips and post them with the same following scheme as Twitter. In fact, Twitter user could simply sign into the service using their normal credentials, and post out Vines to their Twitter followers too.

Twitter bought Vine in late 2012 when it had just three employees and hadn’t even launched an app yet. That app came first to the iPhone in January of this year, followed by a version for Android in June.

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