Vine - social networking’s newest “Minimum Viable Product”?

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 28 January 2013

Is video-loop sharing app Vine the most high-profile experiment yet with the concept of the “Minimum Viable Product”?

When Rene Ritchie reviewed Vine for iMore, he said “For now, Vine is interesting but nowhere nearly fully cooked yet. I won’t be spending any time with it until 1.x or 2.0 is released.”

And if you look at Twitter, you can see a lot of feature requests for things that it could be able to do. People want to crop and zoom, to re-edit, to see the final cut without sharing, to access movie clips or still images from their previously saved photos, and to try out the app on platforms other than iOS.

The team behind Vine could have spent any amount of time building out those features. But what they do have is a core product that allows you to quickly create an account on the service, shoot some video, and then share it. And that is the very definition of the “Minimum Viable Product”.

At the moment they are getting tons of real-use data about how frequently people use the app, what videos they shoot, and what, out of that long shopping list of things that could be added to the app, are the most requested. That data tells them a lot more than they could have gathered in focus groups or lab test settings where people might have theorised about the features they’d want to use in a hypothetical app they couldn’t really play with.

A word of caution though.

With websites I’m a big fan of build, release, learn, iterate, because every time you visit a website, you are using the latest version. This is trickier to pull off in free apps. Often you only get a few seconds to impress someone on their first run before they dismiss you as not having been worth downloading. And the friction in getting people to update apps to the latest version as you add new features is high.

And as the #vineporn incident shows, maybe they were ill-advised to leave out of the MVP scope the use case: “As an editor, it should not be possible for me to select as an editor’s pick a clip marked as sensitive content, or tagged with #NSFW.”

1 Comment

Funny how people are jumping to say Vine is undeveloped when in fact Twitter made they go back to the drawing board with it. I first tried the app back in September when they thought they were about a month from shipping. Twitter didn’t let it go out half-baked.

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