Kara Swisher

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Ready for Your Close-Up, Mr. Systrom: Zuckerberg Touts 15-Second Instagram Video at Facebook Event

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Mark Zuckerberg opened the Instagram event at Facebook’s Silicon Valley HQ today, focusing on the growth of the popular photo-sharing service that he bought last year for a pile of dough and that announced today that it will now be offering video too.

But it was up to Instagram head and co-founder Kevin Systrom to go all Kodak moment on the media gathered, declaring that Instagram “captures the images of your life.”

Systrom noted that Instagram has 16 billion people and 130 million people on the service. “That’s a lot of pictures of coffee,” joked the lanky entrepreneur.

And, thus, to no surprise to anyone by now, he introduced video on Instagram.

It’s a 15-second offering, and looks on the face of it a lot like Twitter’s Vine, but with some differences. That includes the ability to edit clips and put filters and cover frames on them, as well as no endless looping. It is also integrated into the Instagram photo feed, will be able to be shared to Facebook’s larger news feed and is available on the Web, Apple iPhone and also Google Android.

“This is the same Instagram we all know and love, but it moves,” said Systrom.

Then, in a little Steve Jobsian moment, he said: “But there’s more.”

Called Cinema, it’s a a video stabilization video technology for the popular mobile app. In other words, no more shaky-shaky, which is my entire thang when doing video.

In a Q&A after his presentation, Systrom answered some basic questions, including “Why is six seconds not enough?” This referred to Vine, whose videos are that long — or, really, short.

“It’s that Goldilocks moment,” said Systrom, being careful not to insult Twitter’s product by noting time length was an “artistic” decision.

I asked Systrom about the business implications of the product, given so many brands — such as Burberry — use the photo service to reach consumers. I am personally worried about a spate of really bad Calvin Klein-type commercials..

Systrom demurred, noting he did not expect a business question (hmm, really?).

“We’ll see,” he said, which is to say, of course brands will eat this up, both organically and for selling their wares via advertising.

When asked a question if Facebook would wade again into the controversy over who owns the content consumers create on Instagram or if the social networking site would try to claim some rights.

“You do,” he said.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald