YouTube sets India for test launch of TikTok-challenger ‘Shorts’

Hellen Wadman

PALO ALTO, U.S. — Google announced on Monday that it will launch a new service that enables users to utilize their smartphones to shoot, edit and post videos of up to 15 seconds on YouTube, its video-sharing website. A trial version of the service will be available first in India […]

PALO ALTO, U.S. — Google announced on Monday that it will launch a new service that enables users to utilize their smartphones to shoot, edit and post videos of up to 15 seconds on YouTube, its video-sharing website.

A trial version of the service will be available first in India within a few days. With TikTok, a video-sharing app from China, facing strengthening headwinds, the number of similar services is on the rise.

Called YouTube Shorts, the new service will be built into the YouTube app for smartphones. It will combine video and music, as well as offer functions such as adjustable playback speed, a timer and a function that counts down remaining time when filming.

Google plans to listen to feedback about the trial version in India, then improve the service and offer it in other countries and regions. In an official blog post, YouTube Vice President Chris Jaffe stressed that the first post to YouTube was an 18-second video, and said “user-generated short videos were born on YouTube.”

But among short video apps, the rapid growth of China’s TikTok stands out. As of July, there were 689 million monthly users worldwide, according to ByteDance, its operating company. TikTok is popular among users in their teens and twenties, but authorities in the U.S. and India are moving to ban the app as they increasingly see it as a security threat.

The use of alternative apps surged soon after India banned TikTok at the end of June. According to U.S.-based research company Sensor Tower, in the three weeks immediately following the prohibition, downloads of three alternative apps such as Roposo increased to nearly 22 million, or 2.6 times more than the previous three weeks.

With the competitive landscape changing significantly, more companies are trying to win users with short videos. In August, Facebook also added “Reels” to Instagram, its photo and video sharing app. Even among newer players including Triller and Byte, the number of users is growing.

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