YouTube reportedly plans to kick off a new service called "Shorts" in a bid to shore up its defenses against platforms such as TikTok. That's according to recent reports citing two sources said to be close to the matter. The platform, set to be built into YouTube, will reportedly feature short-form videos similar to TikTok. But it will also include a full battery of new creative tools to counter TikTok's core functionality.
The underlying goal for Shorts, sources claim, will be to take advantage of YouTube's massive userbase as a foundation for growth.
The Shorts would also, presumably, be separate from YouTube's Stories feature. It isn't immediately clear exactly how the tool would be different from Stories since that already focuses on short-form content. But Stories are limited in use to channels with more than a pre-determined number of subscribers. So it may be that Shorts are intended to offset those by providing a similar feature but without so many limitations.
Shorts looks like a YouTube response to a very real threat
Now, YouTube has plenty of reasons to be concerned about TikTok and at least one big reason in particular. Namely, that's TikTok's rapid rise in the US and other regions after it initially got its start in China.
The app launched back in 2016 and quickly rose to top social media charts in its home region. Then, in the first quarter of 2019, TikTok took the top spot in terms of overall downloads for the first quarter. It led overall as well as specifically in the Google Play Store, taking spot number two for iOS. As of that quarter last year, it was easily one of the leading short video platforms in both Asia and the US.
Where TikTok excels, despite its 'social media' branding, is in the ease it provides for sharing really short video clips. Those come complete with plenty of options for effects and backing-music too, giving it something of an edge over similar platforms. That also means, while it doesn't directly compete with YouTube, it is a source of competition in the short video viewing category. So it does steal away at least some traffic from that platform.
In the interim, TikTok has continued adding new features, as well as some riffing off of Google's own Android-specific features. Those have included everything from new family safety tools to Digital Wellbeing enhancements.
The addition of those types of features and others only serves to make TikTok an even more popular platform. That gives Google's media-focused sister company all the more reason to pursue new features of its own.
When will Shorts arrive?
There's no exact timetable for the launch of YouTube Shorts, as of this writing. But the media giant reportedly plans to launch the feature before the end of the year. If and when that does arrive, the insider sources indicate, it won't be a standalone app like competing apps though. Instead, users will see it appear as a new feature within the YouTube app itself.
That means that it will arrive as part of either a server-side or app store update.