On March 26th, Twitter announced its new social media App, Periscope. The application features live streaming video similar to Meerkat and Camino which have recently taken over the social media scene. The concept behind Periscope is simple, you can post live video of yourself or of anything else and the app notifies others that you are streaming video live, which you can also share with friends and followers. Although companies such as YouNow and Livestream have offered this feature for the past couple of years, and similar apps such as Viddy and Socialcam have failed, live streaming video has finally caught on. “The world is way more ready for this than it was a year ago,” said Kayvon Beykpour, chief executive and co-founder of Periscope, which Twitter acquired this year.
The shift is being driven by technological advances and the abundance of smartphones, as well as the popularity and comfort with sharing personal information online and through texts and photos. And although live streaming apps have faced challenges in the past, Twitter is betting on this emerging technology and spent close to $100M to acquire Periscope months ago before the app had been introduced. Beyond allowing real-time video sharing, Periscope has a short lag time which allows people to communicate with the broadcaster in near real time. Periscope also takes advantage of a user’s Twitter followers to rapidly build a potential audience, and suggests other active Periscope users as people to follow. It also allows users to store video for replay or sharing later.
Periscope already has competition from Camio and particulary Meerkat, which in a matter of days after being launched became the 177th most downloaded app and the 22nd most popular social networking app. Meerkating which describes the act of someone shooting a video live stream is even becoming a verb. Periscope was under development for 2 years and Twitter failed to quickly introduce and market it which allowed Meerkat to take the spotlight. Two weeks ago Twitter restricted Meerkat’s access to it’s social graph which prevented the user’s Twitter followers from automatically showing up in Meerkat. So the race between the two is now on.
As live-streaming video becomes the norm, new challenges will emerge including the legality issues surrounding illegal streaming of events, or privacy concerns and the live-streaming of inappropriate content. It will be interesting to see which of the apps prevails as the leader in live-streaming video as well as how live-streams will be incorporated into the contextual analysis of big data. In addition to engaging with our friends on their vacations around the world, or feeling like we are at that concert with them, our interaction with live streaming video may have much greater uses such as allowing us to stop crimes from occurring or helping others in need in real time.
Q: Is technology helping us become a less private society, and should there be a limit on what should be shared in real-time?
Q: Beyond providing the simple joy of sharing our private moments with our friends in real time, do applications such as Meerkat and Periscope offer far greater benefits to our society and way of life, if so what other areas do you think may benefit from this new wave of live streaming video?