- Instagram has expanded its TikTok competitor, known as Reels, and is testing it India following the ban on TikTok and other apps.
Instagram has expanded its TikTok competitor, known as Reels, and is testing it India following the ban on TikTok and dozens of other Chinese applications over privacy concerns. The test in India also comes just days after Facebook announced it would shut down its standalone TikTok clone, Lasso, on July 10.
In addition to India, Instagram Reels is residing in Brazil, and France, and Germany as of recently. But a spokesperson for Instagram suggests the expansion may go even wider, without offering specific details.
“We plan on starting testing an updated version of Reels in more countries,” a spokesman told TechCrunch when asked about the arrival of the feature in India. “Reels,” they said, “is a fun, imaginative way for people to both communicate and entertain themselves.”
Unlike Lasso, which had been its separate program, Reels was planned to be a part of Instagram itself. Reels allow users to create and upload music or other audio-like fast, 15-second videos. Like TikTok, the feature also offers a set of editing tools — such as a countdown timer and those that adjust the video speed, for example — that aim to make recording creative content easier.
Nevertheless, Instagram does not have the same kind of two-tabbed, scrollable feed, as provided by TikTok, only to watch the content of Reels.
Instagram updated the feature based on user feedback following the launch of Reels in Brazil last year. Users said they wanted a room for compiling their Reels and watching others make them. Instagram has moved Reels to a dedicated space on the User Profile page to address these issues, and now features Reels in its Explore section, if published by a public account. That allows Reels to go viral by catching the attention of Instagram users who are not following the account of the founder yet.
For a variety of reasons, the arrival Reels is timely. For example, Facebook revealed in June that it has entered into a global agreement with Saregama, one of India’s largest music labels, allowing it to license live music and other media interactions through both Facebook and Instagram. There are also partnerships with other Indian labels on Twitter, including Yash Raj Films, Zee Music Company, and T-Series. However, Saregama ‘s addition may have cleared the path for Reels, given the breadth of its content that includes more than 100,000 tracks such as those from Indian music legends, plus Bollywood tunes, devotional music, ghazals, indie pop, and others.
But above all, given the country’s decision to ban TikTok, it is ideal timing for Reels to come to India.
The ban on Chinese apps has knocked out TikTok from its biggest overseas market, giving Instagram a big opportunity to jump in and sign up new Reels users. TikTok had amassed more than 200 million users in India before its removal, which is a significant loss for the Beijing-headquartered video app.
Yet, for those users, Instagram is not without competition. Reuters recently reported a rise in popularity for other Indian video-sharing applications, such as Roposo, Chingari, and Mitron. In the two days after India banned TikTok, Roposo also saw its user base jump 22 million.