Instagram has expanded Reels amid India’s decision to ban TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps over privacy concerns. The test in India also comes only days after Facebook announced its standalone TikTok clone, Lasso, would be shutting down on July 10. In addition to India, Instagram Reels is live in Brazil, and as of recently, France and Germany. In the US the Trump administration more recently said it was considering a similar ban on TikTok, for reasons related to national security.
Since the news of a possible ban hit, other TikTok rivals got a boost in the charts, including Byte, Triller, Dubsmash, and Likee, for example. Snapchat also began testing TikTok-like navigation for its public video content, and YouTube is running a smaller test of its own.
Reels was designed to directly challenge TikTok’s growing dominance. In a new area in the Instagram app, Reels allows users to create and post short, 15-second videos set to music or other audio, similar to TikTok. Also, like TikTok, Reels offers a set of editing tools — like a countdown timer and tools to adjust the video’s speed, for example — that aim to make it easier to record creative content. Instagram, however, doesn’t have the same sort of two-tabbed, scrollable feed, as TikTok offers today.
TikTok has more than 2 billion downloads and it has all but solidified its place as a social media titan. It outperforms a number of US-based apps that attract younger audiences — including Instagram. In late 2019, TikTok dominated in downloads, beating Instagram by over 238 million users. It was the only app within Sensor Tower’s top five that wasn’t owned by Facebook. Facebook has already made a power grab for TikTok’s audience in the past with the failure of Lasso, an app that only received 600,000 downloads in its entire existence.
If Facebook can replicate the success of Instagram Stories with Instagram Reels, it will put a ton of pressure on TikTok to maintain its growth.