Facebook has confirmed that Instagram Reels is coming to India. This short form video format platform comes at a time when there is a massive space vacated by the ban on TikTok, a social network that was part of the 59 apps Chinese owned apps banned by the Government of India, a few days ago. Instagram Reels is also all about users sharing quirky, funny and exciting 15-second videos to their followers. Instagram Reels, mind you, is currently also on test in India, which means that it will be rolled out to users in India in a phased manner, and not everyone will get the Reels add-on immediately on their Instagram app. India is joining Brazil, Germany and France where Instagram Reels was already live for testing.
“Reels gives a voice to individual creators”, says Vishal Shah, VP of Product, Facebook. Instagram says that of all videos shared on the platform last month, more than 45% of the videos were actually of 15 seconds or lesser duration. Reels can also be accessed via the Camera link in the Instagram app on your phone, much in the same way you currently post Stories right now on Instagram.
Facebook is offering a lot of customization options with Instagram Reels. These 15-second short format videos can be dressed up with a variety of music tracks, filters and editing tools. Instagram confirms that the Spark AR effects will also be available for Instagram Reels, much in the same way Instagram Stories. Content creators will be able to also change video speed and add music, depending on the library of tracks available in this region.
Instagram says Reels content will get wider sharing options. Users will also be able to post the short format videos to the Explore tab, as well as to Stories and the Instagram Feed. The search options now include Reels creators as well as by music tracks used by creators in the short format videos.
On the issue of the timing of the launch of Instagram Reels coinciding with the ban on TikTok, Facebook says the plan was always in place to bring Reels to India. “This has been in the making for a while. We have seen interest in short form videos for a while now,” says Ajit Mohan, on the timing of the Instagram Reels launch in India, while mentioning India has a young population looking for platform to express on. “India was always on the radar,” he added. Till now, Instagram Reels was available in Brazil, Germany and France as part of a larger test.
Late last month, the Government of India issued an order banning as many as 59 Chinese owned smartphone apps in the country. The notification issued by The Ministry of Information Technology of the Government of India derived powers under the section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 citing the concerns about the security, integrity and defense of India. The apps that now stand banned in India, across all platforms now include TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer and Mi Community.
That was a huge hit for TikTok, a popular social media platform focused on short format videos and owned by Chinese tech company Bytedance. According to data analytics firm App Annie, India accounted for 323 million, which is 44%, of the total 740 million TikTok app downloads in 2019 across all platforms. They also suggest that Indians spent 5.5 billion hours on the TikTok app last year. In fact, at the beginning of this year, it was reported that ByteDance was targeting Rs 100 crore in revenue in India, banking on new quick advert formats for brands as well.