Facebook is changing horses just as the race was about to start, realising that its bets were misplaced all this while. The company is putting a bullet in the head of its TikTok-like app Lasso, ahead of the launch of Instagram Reels, yet another TikTok-esque feature.
The company had announcedannounced Lasso an year and a half ago, when it saw the potential of TikTok, an app that managed to become an overnight sensation. This isn’t new for Facebook, which has been rolling out the ‘Stories’ feature from Snapchat on almost every platform it operates. As is evident by its history, Facebook is always ready to ‘be inspired’.
The platform was launched with the same 15 seconds video format as TikTok, and the ability to add popular songs in the background. Seeing how the same feature made huge waves on TikTok, Lasso did have a lot of potential, which was essentially left untapped. Any possible impact the platform could have had was inhibited by Facebook’s perfunctory efforts when it came to expansion to new markets. TechCrunch reports that by the end of February, Lasso was only available in Colombia, Mexico, the U.S., Argentina, Chile, Peru, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ecuador, and Uruguay. Seeing how it had a 2018 launch, the pace of its expansion was almost laughable.
At one point, it seemed like Facebook was finally ready to take the training wheels off and let Lasso fly, especially when it added Hindi support on the platform, earlier this year. This was being seen as a preclude to Lasso’s entry in India, TikTok’s biggest(former) market. However, as is evident by the latest announcement, that did not work out.
However, this does not mean that Facebook is done pursuing the TikTok market, especially when the opportunity is as ripe as it is. A few days back, the government of India banned 59 Chinese apps from operating in the country, citing data threats and a concern for user privacy. Out of these 59 apps, TikTok was probably the one that attracted the most attention, due to its large user base and India being its biggest market. Now, the country is looking for its nicotine patch, to relieve the restlessness caused by the disappearance of TikTok.
And to fill that void, Facebook is launching Instagram Reels. Facebook probably realized that it’s not worth building a new app from scratch, especially seeing how much people love their TikTok. Thus, it makes sense to extend the functionality to an existing app that already boasts a huge customer base, like Instagram, so that the feature gets a huge boost at its launch. And that is where Instagram Reels comes in.
The feature will make its way to Instagram directly from Instagram’s own camera, which can be accessed by right swiping on the main feed. There, you can access “Reels”, which will sit next to Boomerang and Super-Zoom. Here, users will be able to record the same 15 second clips, along with accompanying sound tracks, that they have grown to love on TikTok. Once recorded, the videos can be added to story or close friends, sent via DMs, or made public. Public reels will have the opportunity to appear in the Top Reels section of the Explore tab.
However, if Facebook wants to take this big chunk of a newly opened up market for itself, it will have to speed up the expansion of the feature to new markets, so as to not fall in the same pitfalls that it did with Lasso.