Live streaming is one of those technologies social has had a hard time harnessing for its own uses. Yes, Skype and Facetime exist for video chats and have achieved the biggest market saturation and name recognition while apps like Viber offer similar options – there has been little in the way of live streaming just for social.
Google have made a good fist with Hangouts On Air, allowing 10 people at a time to take part in a video chat. It will also link to YouTube allowing an unlimited number of people to watch the stream but it somehow doesn’t feel as instantaneous.
Enter #Meerkat. A new app for the iPhone and iPad, Meerkat crosses video chat with the disposability of Snapchat letting the user live stream from their device to their friends or anybody with a link while it is streaming. Once the stream has finished then that’s it, over, gone – literally watch it live or not at all. The technology isn’t new but the opportunity to reach the audience through Twitter with its proven ability to spread trending items quickly is.
Less than a month old, Meerkat is already getting a lot of attention – particularly from media organisations, journalists and savvier brand-builders like Gary Vaynerchuk – who realise it’s a cost effective way to reach a potentially huge audience quickly.
This implication has been grasped by Twitter who bought a rival service, Periscope, and has immediately sought to limit Meerkat’s ability to use its service. The fierceness of this competition, literally only weeks after one was launched shows that they understand the potential free, widely accessible video has.
Smart brands and agencies will already be thinking about what they can stream, (or Meerkat or Periscope – you can tell how successful a service is by the time it takes to become an adjective) especially when tools to embed and curate the streams become available. #TeamDTW have already been experimenting with Meerkat so watch this space!
Sadly, this could have been the killer app Google Glass needed to become a mainstream success – the tech equivalent of Charles Goodyear shutting his tyre factory because of low sales the week before Henry Ford launched his Model T.