Imatge | IntelFreePress
The first few months of 2015 have been marked by the explosion of a very specific category of apps in which a winner still hasn’t emerged: video streaming.
Meerkat entered the iTunes Store on Feb. 27 and it was on everyone’s lips at the SXSW festival on March 13. But it ran into a roadblock the very next day, when Twitter cut off access to its social graph (the list of friends that lets you follow users automatically upon registering.) The day before Twitter had announced the purchase of Periscope, another retransmission app, so the move was seen as related.
All this was the result of the online news cycle (a series of technology bloggers brought up Meercat, some famous person used it and the media started to cover it. However, when it comes to the actual rankings, it never even rose to the top 100 in iTunes — the presence of a company as popular as Twitter as part of the story and the “war “ factor of two competing apps (Periscope vs. Meerkat!), made it seem like mobile streaming is more important than ever. In fact, all these factors lead us to believe that the future of a large part of our audiovisual consumption will involve live streaming. To give you an idea, on March 26 Meerkat received a round of financing of 14 million dollars. Does this mean that from this very moment we are going to see more live video retransmission than one month ago? No, probably not.
While written in a sarcastic tone, this blog post by Eugene Wei made several good points: market conditions and the idea are good, therefore many apps will be born that won’t succeed. One will capture the attention of early adopters, become famous and one day someone will give it the adequate format that will convert it into a new little star within the medium. That is when live video will take its definitive place on mobile screens.
“Today, it feels like we are at the dawn of a new era for live video,” states a report from Greylock, the investment fund that has backed Meerkat. “As a society, our behaviors have shifted to a place where sharing our lives is something we do naturally. People share moments on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter hundreds of millions or billions of times per day. Snapchat has shown us that these don’t even have to be perfectly curated moments and thoughts, but can be true, authentic pieces of life. But all of this is still asynchronous — you post, I read it later. Twitter is the closest — where the conversation often feels real time like at a watercooler. It’s an incredible product and an incredible company. It makes sense they are very excited about live video and it makes sense that Meerkat found its footing on Twitter.” The magic of sharing video in real time, is something that Meerkat and its investors have dubbed “spontaneous togetherness.”
Image | EyeTok
It’s clear that video streaming from mobile phones makes sense and has potential. So much so that the attempts to enter this space didn’t start last month. In fact, in Spain there are several earlier contenders: Upclose debuted its beta in summer of 2014 with Spanish artists including El Pescao and Aqeel (producer of the Zombie Kids) as retransmitters, and in January closed a new round of 800,000 US dollars (a year before they received an additional 1.25 million US dollars). Upclose is the result of various pivots and merges, as it was first called Zuzeen and then Rushmore. As they explain on their web site “Upclose is a result of more than two years of work bringing artists and fans together through interactive experiences.”
In the same vein, you might have also heard of EyeTok: one of the apps developed by InQbarna, who is also known for creating Splyce (an automatic song mixer that Apple liked very much and included in their best apps of 2013). EyeTok doesn’t focus on artists or celebrities themselves, but rather on communication. It aims for the community to retransmit any event in its area.
And in other parts of the world? Upstream has been using live video since 2007, more on the web than on mobile, however the product recently “pivoted” to focus on selling to companies and large accounts. And in other formats – the attempts of Instagram, the short videos of Vine (which is now also owned by Twitter), or histories on Spapchat – there are many trying to become the leader and become the retransmission platform seen as the future. The founder of Meerkat — who, in some way, has made the idea a reality – defines it as: new feelings = new habits = new medium = new message = new graph.