Tumblr Have Joined the Video Race With a New Standalone App

It's not often that I get to write about Tumblr, mostly because the only newsworthy things which ever seem to happen are related to either fandom warfare or Yahoo making another questionable business decision, but every now and again, something does crop up. In this case, it's that a new app has been launched under the Tumblr banner, and it's another social video app.

Tech and social media companies seem to be taking a scattershot approach to app development of late, and no genre is more oversubscribed that video sharing. Tumblr's rendition is called Cabana, and once again it revolves around users sharing and watching videos together in real time, as well as video chatting. The key difference is that it's marketed directly to the Tumblr crowd - teenagers.

There's no direct connection between the two services, and in fact the main reason Cabana was developed through Tumblr is because CEO David Karp ran into the project lead at a Yahoo event. Cabana was developed by a Yahoo incubator called Polyvore, who before now have never taken anything public, but Karp saw such a strong link between Cabana and Tumblr that he decided to get involved.

Tumblr is a place for people to share content with just about anyone, be they friends, acquaintances, strangers or anything in between. Cabana, meanwhile is designed to let you share content with an immediate circle of friends, without the need to be physically near them. Elementary stuff, right? That's probably why there are dozens upon dozens of shiny new apps out there with the exact same function at their hearts.

Cabana does it like this - users can either create or join 'rooms', which either privately or publicly let people all watch the same video at the same time, and react to it. Once in a room, you can add other friends up to a total limit of six. You can leave and join rooms at will, but you can only be in one at a time. Imagine some weird art installation where you wander between small spaces with videos being projected on the wall, remove everything physical until you're just left with the core concept, add a smartphone and you get the idea.

If you 'created' the room, you're the arbiter of the content. You can film yourself, what's happening in front of you or pull up videos from elsewhere to share. It's an interesting trend, apps like Cabana seem to almost be moving backwards to move forwards, creating a more confined experience to better replicate what we do in person - pull something up on YouTube and gather around a screen.

Looking forwards, Karp is planning to merge Cabana's brand advertising with Tumblr's, and once Tumblr has a dedicated live-streaming service, that will be factored in as well. Whether or not Cabana stands out enough to become the social video app remains to be seen, but it's at least encouraging to see Tumblr branching out into new enterprises after years of minor alterations and damage control.

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