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An Instragram for Video? No Thanks, Says the Industry

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If you have young children and travel a lot, you know the feeling well. You're gone for a week or two, and when you return, you see a different person than when you left. Your son is pronouncing his R's and L's correctly, or your daughter's penmanship has gone from illegible to intricate. Incremental changes appear monumental when they don't happen right in front of your eyes.

Likewise, the streaming media industry has matured and grown in ways that don't always seem apparent to those of us who are living it every day. Take a look at the hype around creating an "Instagram for video," which has been a constant theme in the tech press since Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion almost a year ago.

Tech writers -- at least the ones obsessed with VC funding and enamored of Silicon Valley -- almost immediately began touting Viddy and Socialcam as the most likely candidates to become the "Instagram for video." The number of combined users for those services quickly shot up more than 100 million as of last June. But more recent analysis by AppData indicates their combined user numbers have dropped down below 5 million.

Yet pundits still continue in their search, all the while ignoring the fundamental difference between photos -- images that can be understood and appreciated with just a glance -- and video, which will forever be linear and requires a set time commitment from the viewer. You can look at a photo and you can scan lines of text or even lengthy articles, but there's no way to effectively skim a video.

With very few exceptions, though, the calls for an "Instagram for video" came from those outside the streaming media industry, which tells me that the industry has grown up. We're approaching the 20th anniversary of streaming media's debut, and as the technology has matured, so have the business models.

While there will always be startups looking to disrupt -- and goodness knows that's a good thing -- for the most part, the streaming media industry is not about the quick cash-in or hype anymore. The only people who want an "Instagram for video" are people who aren't really involved with video as a business.

Because the people who are involved with video as a business are more concerned with devising technical and business solutions designed to remain viable long into the future, rather than simply capitalize on what's hot right now. They know that it's not about what's sexy; it's about what works day in and day out.

That's why this year's Streaming Media Industry Sourcebook -- our 10th annual edition -- is more focused than ever on the nuts and bolts of what's moving our industry forward and what goes on in the technical and purchasing decision-making processes. Our Industry Update section is more comprehensive than ever, encompassing the major verticals we cover (enterprise, education, and media and entertainment) as well as the technological developments in mobile, over-the-top, and delivery protocols.

The Buyer's Guide section is also bigger than ever, with articles covering 17 categories of products and services, each one arming you with a list of questions you need to ask to make the right purchasing choice for your needs. Our How-To's and Tutorials and Case Studies sections offer equally practical guidance and information.

Maybe there will be an "Instagram for video," and more power to the person who figures out what that is. In the meantime, the grown-ups have work to do.

This article appears in the forthcoming 2013 Streaming Media Industry Sourcebook.

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