With 100m users, photo-sharing app tipped to help social network fend off competition from Twitter's Vine
Facebook may be preparing to add video-sharing features to its Instagram app, in a direct response to the popularity of Twitter's Vine app.
The new features could be announced this week, with Facebook having invited US journalists to an event on 20 June with the words "A small team has been working on a big idea".
TechCrunch claims that big idea is the ability to shoot and share short videos, citing a previous report by independent journalist Matthew Keys suggesting that the new feature would cover videos of 5-10 seconds in length.
A direct strike at Vine, then. Twitter's standalone video-sharing app was downloaded 13m times for iPhone between its launch in late January 2013, and early June when the Android version was released.
The latter has since been installed between 1m and 5m times globally, according to the Google Play app store's stats.
Evidence against Instagram getting video this week? The second sentence in Facebook's press-event invitation: "Join us for coffee and learn about a new product." That hints at more than simply new capabilities for an existing app.
TechCrunch has that covered too with a separate post predicting that Facebook may unveil its own news reader service, just in time to capitalise on the closure of Google Reader.
Both rumours could be right, even if only one of them becomes hard fact on Thursday. But it would be entirely unsurprising if Facebook isn't thinking hard about how to do more with video on its service.
The social network has been the world's largest photo-sharing service for years now: as far back as October 2008 its users were uploading 2-3 terabytes of photos a day, with Facebook serving more than 15bn images a day.
Video? It's pretty popular on Facebook too. comScore pegged it as the second biggest US online video site in May 2013 with 60.4m unique viewers watching 727.4m videos in the US alone, behind only YouTube.
Yet video remains something of an afterthought for Facebook, particularly in its smartphone apps: on iPhone, you still upload a video by tapping a button marked "Photo" for example.
Facebook could go the Vine route and launch a standalone shortform video-sharing app, much like it released Facebook Camera in May 2012 as a way to test photography features before rolling them into its main app.
Adding video to Instagram instead may be a way to hit the ground running: the app has more than 100m monthly active users, split nearly half-and-half between iPhone and Android.
Instagram's signature "filter" visual effects could work for videos too. Indeed, video-sharing apps like Socialcam, Viddy and VideofyMe have provided exactly that.
The risks? If Facebook simply shoehorns video into Instagram as a hastily-conceived blocking manoeuvre against Vine, it risks alienating existing users.