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June 20th, 2013
06:46 PM ET

Columnist: Facebook has become a Twitter copycat

"Anything you can do, I can do better." That pretty much sums up the technology war going on right now between Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook revealed a new upgrade to its photo-sharing app Instagram Thursday, which now lets users record short, 15-second videos on their phones that they can then share instantly with friends.

The new feature bears a striking resemblance to the Vine app, which was recently acquired by Twitter. The main difference is that on Instagram's app, the videos are a little longer and users have filter options.

"It is a copycat," said Rocco Pendola, columnist with The Street. "It's like you did the 6-second thing, so we're going to do the 15-second thing. We're going to let you edit it a little bit more."

"It's unfortunate because as a platform, Facebook has one billion users and it needs to get better as a platform. It needs to continue along whatever vision Zuckerberg had when he started this thing, but that's not what he's doing," said Pendola.

"He copied Twitter on hashtags, copied Foursquare on places, he's copying Twitter on Vine. And he did the thing with the Facebook home app and had an HTC phone that was branded with Facebook. They both flopped," said Pendola.

"He's following the crowd and doing very expected things in lots of ways and I think in the long term that's a negative thing for the company," said Pendola.

The longer Instagram videos may prove more appealing to advertisers. But it still has to jump the hurdle of being user-friendly. Posting a 15-second video will take longer than posting one that lasts just 6 seconds.

"Advertisers are going after low-hanging fruit. You're going to go to the place with the most size and the most scale, the billion users," said Pendola. "But is Facebook building a long-term proposition, something that will be multi-generational like television has for advertisers? I don't feel like they are."

The company has introduced so many products recently, that Pendola questions if Facebook really knows what it is doing when it comes to advertising.

"If they really knew the impact it could have for clients, they would have had just two or three products, they would have been
spot on, and they would have went with that," said Pendola.

"But they're just throwing a bunch of stuff against the wall and saying let's figure out what's going to work," said Pendola.

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