We’re in a real life Attack of the Clones. YouTube announced on Monday that it will enter the increasingly competitive short-form video ecosystem by launching Shorts, a feature for quick 15-second clips that seems intent on going up against TikTok, which has dominated the space for several years. YouTube is launching a beta for Shorts over the next few days in India — a country that coincidentally banned TikTok over the summer — and the announcement comes just weeks after Instagram launched its own TikTok rival, Reels.
As YouTube points out in a blog post Monday, short-form videos aren’t exactly foreign to YouTube, with many viral clips like “Charlie Bit My Finger” and “Good Morning Y’all’ commonly associated with the site; “Meet Me in the Zoo,” YouTube’s first uploaded video, was 18 seconds long. Still, YouTube is far more ubiquitous with music and longer vlogs than for viral clips.
No platform has managed to dethrone TikTok so far, although several are trying to close in, particularly as TikTok’s future remained uncertain in recent months as the Trump administration repeatedly voiced its desire to ban the app in the U.S. over alleged security concerns. Facebook launched Instagram Reels and nabbed teasers for new music from Saweetie and Miley Cyrus, Triller poached TikTok star Josh Richards to be the company’s chief strategy officer, and startup Byte briefly topped downloads in the App Store as TikTokers prepared for a TikTok shut down that never happened.
Following multiple executive orders from Trump — and a lawsuit from parent company ByteDance — TikTok is expected to partner with Oracle, which reportedly beat out early frontrunner Microsoft for the bid. While the specifics of that deal aren’t yet known, such a partnership could help quell the fight with the White House and end a very tumultuous few months for the platform.
Along with being a strong outlet for quick, zany comedy videos, seconds-long videos are strong opportunities turn a catchy verse or chorus into a viral song. TikTok in particular has proven wildly influential in the music industry, breaking many of this year’s biggest hit songs and helping record labels market their artists’ new songs as well as find undiscovered artists.