YouTube is preparing to launch a beta version of its TikTok competitor, Shorts, in the United States beginning in March, Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan announced yesterday.
The YouTube team has seen success with Shorts in India, where the feature has existed for several months. “The number of Indian channels using Shorts creation tools has more than tripled, and the YouTube Shorts player is now receiving more than 3.5 billion daily views globally,” wrote Mohan.
Posting om his blog that “Today, with video becoming an even more important part of our daily lives, the needs of viewers are evolving faster than ever. To meet these demands in the year ahead, we’re looking to redefine how the world experiences video. You can think of YouTube as a global stage for video: Like any good stage manager, our job is to create the best setting for our creators and the best viewing experience for our audience.”
Reports that YouTube was working on a TikTok competitor first emerged in April 2020, but YouTube didn’t roll out Shorts in India until September 2020. While the company was trying to figure out how to extend its creator base and 2 billion monthly users to a mobile-first product in wake of TikTok’s explosive popularity, Instagram was doing the same thing. Instagram launched Reels not long before YouTube rolled out Shorts, leading two of the world’s biggest tech and social platforms playing catch up with TikTok.
YouTube is looking at ways of reinventing our video experiences through
– Easier navigation
– Supporting emerging formats such as SD, HD, 4K, VR and HDR
– Expanding into YouTube TV (most of us apparently enjoy YouTube via mobile)
– Making YouTube safer for children
– Facilitating that music playlist
– Expanding opportunities for creators through various means
We have to trust that Mohan knows his stuff considering YouTube paid him $100m to stay with YouTube instead of jumping ship when Twitter came calling in 2013. He was apparently worth his weight in gold because YouTube expected him to bring in $7 billion in revenue. It is easy to see why YouTube is trying to get Shorts in the hands of creators and users as fast as it can. The popularity of TikTok is unprecedented, but YouTube seems to have a plan that will cut it where Instagram’s Reels did not. It is still unclear when Shorts will arrive on the African continent. We will have to wait and see.
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