SAN FRANCISCO — Expanding beyond its origins as an app for sharing pretty photos, Instagram said on Wednesday that it will now allow videos up to an hour long.
At an event in San Francisco that was delayed about 45 minutes because of technical issues, Instagram said it was launching IGTV — a new video feature for vertically shot videos. The company said it will launch IGTV as its own stand-alone app as well.
The move thrusts Instagram into direct competition with Google’s YouTube and its own parent company, Facebook, which has been pushing consumers to spend more time watching videos.
Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion when the nascent photo-sharing service had only 30 million users. Since then, Instagram has opened up the platform to videos of up to one minute and copied a popular feature of its rival Snapchat by allowing ephemeral posts known as stories. Instagram said it has a billion monthly users.
In many ways, Instagram is what Facebook is not. Instagram is native to smartphones, attracts a younger, thought-to-be cooler audience and is popular among celebrities and influencers — all traits that serve as catnip for advertisers.