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Instagram hits 1 billion users as it launches video service to rival YouTube

Hannah Boland
Instagram said celebrities including Kim Kardashian West had already started to add videos to their IGTV channels - Getty Images Contributor

Instagram's rapid growth is showing no signs of slowing, as it revealed it has hit 1 billion monthly users, and unveiled plans to expand into long-form videos.

The photo-sharing app, which is owned by Facebook, last revealed the number of users on its platform in September, when there were 800 million people using the app. It has added around 200 million users each year for the past two years.

The user update shows Instagram moving further ahead of Snapchat, which lags behind with around 100 million monthly active users.

Facebook has positioned Instagram against Snapchat, both competing for a similar audience and coming after Snap reportedly spurned a takeover approach from Mark Zuckerberg in 2012. 

Recent updates to Instagram have prompted Snap chief executive Evan Spiegel to accuse Mr Zuckerberg of copying its most popular features, such as filters and short videos, but while Instagram's updates have been largely welcomed by users, Snapchat has struggled with unpopular redesigns.

The backlash against its January revamp caused Snap's user growth to come in at its slowest pace ever recorded in the first three months of the year.

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However, Instagram's announcement that it was launching a longer-form video service appeared to suggest it was now looking to challenge the dominance of YouTube.

Instagram said the new IGTV app would be a place where "people can watch long-form (up to an hour), vertical video from their favourite Instagram creators and celebs, allowing them to connect around the interests and passions that matter the most to them".

It added that celebrities including Selena Gomez and Kim Kardashian West had already started to add videos to their IGTV channels.

"Teens are now watching 40pc less TV than they did five years ago," Instagram chief executive Kevin Systrom said at an event to announce the launch in San Francisco. "It's time for video to move forward and evolve."

Courting stars to post videos is part of its strategies. Instagram said it has signed up personalities such as Lele Pons, who has 25 million Instagram followers, for IGTV.

Ms Pons said she did not plan to choose sides between two of Silicon Valley's largest companies. "I'm still going to be posting on YouTube as well as on Instagram," she told reporters.

News of the move comes amid a wider trend among the internet giants to broaden their reach, with YouTube earlier this week having announced plans to launch a music streaming service. 

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