Remember CU-SeeMe and the Connectix Quick-Cam? A lot of great solutions have come out for personal streaming video lately, namely from Qik, Yahoo, and a mainstay in UStream.tv. Most laptops these days come with camera’s built-in like my MacBook, and a mobile made past 2004 better have a camera. With the hardware omni-present, suddenly streaming is easier than ever and available to anyone from anywhere.
Qik is a great first step into true mobile live streaming. I was lucky enough to get on the alpha test and have played with it a little on my Nokia 5700. I have to say, I think it’s awesome as a concept and overall the performance through my lowly EDGE connection was pretty great. Don’t expect fantastic quality, this is of course limited by your handset’s device video capabilities and the fact the your carrier’s internet connection is going to pale in comparison to a broadband one. But you can see it clearly which in most cases is good enough.
Another great thing is that Qik allows for a wonderfully customizable “channel” for it’s users. Very cool if you’re Robert Scoble and work for Fast Company for instance. Notice the neat-o watermark! There is also Twitter functionality that will automatically fire off notice to your followers When you’re streaming “Live”.
Of course for the most part, most of Qik’s content isn’t “Live”. But what this allows folks to do is skip the step of downloading the movies to the PC, logging on to a site, and uploading the content. So while it’s not really always live, it has an immediacy that you really can’t really duplicate without the mobility of a cell phone. All in all a great start to something I hope will mature into a popular platform.
When Yahoo! isn’t hemmoraging money or laying people off, I guess streaming video is a pleasent distraction to this whole Microsoft hostile takeover thing. According to them, ‘Y! Live is an experimental release.” As much as Y! Live is cool, they may want to start experimenting with competing with Google instead these days, but I digress.
Yahoo! Live allows anyone with a mere Yahoo account have access to streaming across a large audience in a matter of minutes. This constitutes a huge user-base with a common login (like Flickr) and has huge strategic impact. Another differentiator is their social interaction model and channel system (look up MeanBlackDude for some laughs). Using Flex, it allows for multiple users to stream in and interact at the same time. You get a lot of funny back and forth through this… when it works. I say this because when the service first launched a few weeks ago, they went through some major scaling issues, in fact the first several attempts I tried did not work at all. When a company as big as Yahoo! has scaling issues, you have to wonder about their planning. Regardless they seem to have ironed out some of the kinks and are off to the races.
And that brings me to UStream. Why didn’t Yahoo! just buy UStream? They were already reported being courted by Microsoft for a paltry $50 million. That’s peanuts to these players. Let’s chock it up to Yahoo!’s innovative spirit (or waning leadership).
UStream is very much like like Yahoo! live. Except they have a proven track record already with syndicated shows and partners. So far my experience with UStream has been better, but that could change. It’s also obvious that there’s a monetization strategy with UStream while Yahoo live is an “experiment”. Hmmm.
Anyway, warm up those cams and tweet me when you go live. Look forward to seeing your ugly mug no matter where you are soon!