Telly, a social video sharing site with 15 million monthly users, launched its first mobile app today on Android. The web-only company would’ve gone mobile iOS first if Apple’s approval process wasn’t so unpredictable.
Telly’s availability on mobile allows for simpler video uploading, editing (with filters), and sharing.
But before I go any further I must note: Telly does not want its mobile app to be an Instagram for video. That’s despite the fact that Telly’s concept, which rebranded from Twitvid in June, seems to fits perfectly into that categorization.
The reasons for wanting to avoid the category are many. The most obvious is that Instagram for video was a flash in the pan. The second-most obvious is that Telly has plans to create something much bigger.
Instagram for video was just too tempting for investors. They’d just witnessed a $1 billion deal, done over a weekend, for a two-year old, 13-person company with zero revenue. They–and by they I mean everyone from respected Valley investors to Shakira–needed a piece of “the next Instagram.”
And then within a couple of months it all fell apart. That’s a less compelling story to tell–if you Google “Instagram for video,” it’s nothing but breathless descriptions of the “hot new trend.” A description of the fadishness of it doesn’t appear until page four, and surprise, it’s a Pandodaily story.
The problems with trying to replicate Instagram’s success with video are simple and so painfully obvious if you think about it.
- Average Joes suck at taking decent video. Attractive photos are way easier for an amateur photographer to snap, and people are more comfortable posing for them. It’s the difference between a polite smile and and this reaction.
- Bandwidth is in short supply. Taking, uploading and streaming video takes a lot of it.
- Lastly, Facebook bought Instagram because it was competing with Facebook’s stickiest feature–photosharing. Not many people upload videos to Facebook, so the odds of lightening striking twice are low.
All of that is to say, social video is a tricky beast. Telly is boldly aiming to slay it.
The company started as a bookmarklet for keeping all of one’s favorite videos from across the web in one place. Now it’s a full-blown social network for video, with the ability to upload and share video, and also curate videos not created or published by you. The curation (buzzword alert!) is key to avoiding the “Instagram for video” ghetto.
“It’s not just people creating videos with filters and then viewing a feed of filtered videos,” co-founder Mo Al Adham says. “We don’t think that’s entertaining.” Users want videos from their friends and families mixed in with videos their friends curated from around the web. Telly also surfaces trending videos. The discovery piece–Telly serving both curated videos and trending videos–makes the app more compelling than a simple Instagram for video. It also kills the issue with low quality user-generated videos.
The grand vision for Telly, which has raised $6.5 million in venture backing a year ago, is to be the video discovery app of choice for all four “screens.” Telly has been available for the web. As of today, it’s available for Android phones. iPhone will be soon. Next, it’ll go tablet, and eventually, TV.
“We really want to be that layer that sits across all consumer devices that exist that show all the interesting videos you should be watching,” Al Adham says. Which sounds a leeettle more compelling than yet another “Instagram for video.”