Google’s foray into short-form video content begins with YouTube Shorts, a new feature being tested in limited markets.
YouTube Shorts is launching first in India and is described as:
“Shorts is a new short-form video experience for creators and artists who want to shoot short, catchy videos using nothing but their mobile phones.“
YouTube Shorts offers the following features to video creators:
- Create and upload videos of 15-seconds or less.
- Edit videos with a number of creative tools.
- Stitch shorter clips together with a multi-segment camera.
- Add music to videos from YouTube’s library.
- Speed up or slow down videos.
- Timers and countdowns.
Users can start recording a Short with the new create icon that has been prominently placed in the YouTube app for Android (expanding to iOS soon).
After publishing a Short, it will appear in a carousel on the YouTube homepage that’s designed specifically for short videos.
Users can jump from one video to another by swiping vertically while viewing content from the carousel.
The carousel houses all short videos on YouTube, not just videos created with Shorts.
With that being the case, YouTube is encouraging creators to start preparing now by uploading any existing short videos they have.
“We encourage any mobile creator or artist to start uploading their existing short videos on YouTube today to start getting discovered.”
Launching Now in Beta
An early beta of YouTube Shorts will be available soon to users in India. The beta is said to include only a handful of the available features.
YouTube emphasizes that it’s still in the process of building Shorts into what it will eventually become.
More features will be added over time, and it’s confirmed that YouTube Shorts will expand to more countries in the coming months.
The company intends to use feedback from beta users to guide further product development:
“This is an early version of the product, but we’re releasing it now to bring you — our global community of users, creators and artists — on our journey with us as we build and improve Shorts.”
Just Another TikTok Clone?
YouTube Shorts is drawing obvious comparisons to the leading short-form video app TikTok.
It’s hard to deny the similarities. And it’s worth noting YouTube made the decision to launch this feature in a country where TikTok is banned.
With the top competitor in short-form video out of the way, there’s an entire audience of people clamoring for an alternative.
Instagram used that strategy when throwing its hat into the short-form video race with the launch of Reels.
TikTok was banned in India on June 29, and Instagram began testing Reels in India on July 6.
As soon as there was talk of TikTok being banned in the United States, Instagram expanded Reels to more countries.
Calling Shorts a TikTok clone is shortsighted, because YouTube has a key differentiating factor.
YouTube’s competitive advantage over both TikTok and Instagram boils down to one thing: numbers.
YouTube has more monthly active users than both TikTok and Instagram combined at 2 billion.
That’s a considerably greater audience of people who can discover content created with YouTube Shorts.
Not to mention YouTube’s monetization features make it appealing for creators to invest their time into it.
As of yet there is no way to earn money directly from Instagram Reels or TikTok.
On paper it sounds like YouTube Shorts has what it takes to be a major player in short-form video. We’ll have to see how it plays out in actual practice.