Blog Archive: Understanding the Minimum Viable Product - Vine vs Loopcam

Note: After posting this (Feb ‘13) I felt a little bad about running down Loopcam’s product.

I know first hand how hard it is to get a consumer / social app right, and on many levels failed with my own attempts via Snapr (although haha we do have a v4.0 coming soon that looks really nice).

Vine remains a great product, and I reposted this because I think it’s worth highlighting.

The idea of a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ is a big thing in the startup world.

Its often understood as being a necessary form factor only because startups have limited resources and must prioritise.

This is true, but there are other things that are just as crucial about an MVP:

This brings me to the comparison between Vine and Loopcam. They are different apps in that one is for short video sequences, and one is for short gif’s - but in my opinion both have the potential to be ‘the solution’ for sharing/watching moving pictures from mobile.

Video on mobile has never really worked for several reasons:

Vine & Loopcam solve all these problems by making it easy to create short bytes of moving images & upload them in a compressed format.

Both apps also bring a little extra magic in that the clips can have a playful animation like quality.

Vine is perhaps a little more grown up in that its clips contain ‘real video’ and sound. But I think we can agree that people like gifs on the internet too.

So why has one taken off so much more than the other?

Some obvious reasons - one is a San Francisco company with the PR clout of Twitter behind it, and the other is an independent (but funded) startup out of Berlin.

But these things can only count for so much, they can’t ultimately make people use your product en-masse.

Vine is a much better MVP and it deserves its success.

Lets take a look at their main feed views side by side:

vine vs loopcam screenshots

Arriving in Vine we see nothing but a single feed. Even if you don’t follow anyone yet it is populated with ‘Editor’s picks’ - so there is quality content from day one. There is a button to create a new clip, and there is a dropdown to switch to different views if you really want to explore.

You are presented with nothing but the essential - funny clips, and a button to create your own. Its as close to being perfect as anything I have seen - better even than Instagram.

Compare that to Loopcam. You have a feed view which is quite similar, but a few crucial differences:

And then things get even worse as you flick through the different tabs (as people have a habit of doing..)

So there you have it. 40%-60% of the movie is boring. Any one I recommend the app is likely to flick through these tabs and think :( not awesome..

Things like this seem like simple mistakes in hindsight, but the truth is its very hard to hit the nail on the head, and sometimes you don’t know it until you see it.


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