Meerkat & Periscope: The Livestreaming Revolution


Just a few weeks ago at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, the mobile app Meerkat exploded onto the scene, bringing fresh attention to social video sharing. Then, last week, Twitter revealed its own livestreaming app, Periscope.

These tools allow the user to instantly begin streaming live video to the Internet with the press of a button, which can then be accessed by online viewers through Twitter who are capable of commenting alongside the stream.

The following is a breakdown of both, which at the time of this writing are only available for the iOS platform. Already, the second-screen apps have their enthusiasts and detractors.

Either way, the forthcoming prevalence of livestreaming is sure to shakeup current television models.

Former Senior Adviser to President Obama, Dan Pfeiffer, suggested “[Meerkat] could do to television what blogs did to newspapers by removing many of the financial and structural advantages of legacy media institutions” in a Medium post.

One can now broadcast to an audience without a camera crew or control room.

“[It] will literally change the world,” entrepreneur Adam Leidhecker excitedly told Mashable after offering repeated demonstrations of the technology at SXSW.

Politico journalist Dylan Byers described the app as “the social media tool of the 2016 presidential election.”

Journalists, opposition researchers and regular citizens will be sure to use it whenever a contender for the White House is campaigning.

A key differentiator in Meerkat’s abilities is that it allows users to schedule streams in advance.

“A picture may be worth a thousand words, but live video can take you someplace and show you around,” Periscope declared upon its launch on March 26.

Co-founder Kayvon Beykpour calls the app a “two-way teleportation device.”

Now that Twitter’s Periscope has arrived, some are already proclaiming the death of Meerkat. BGR observes that it’s placement on the U.S. iPhone Download Chart went from around No. 140 to No. 523.

Initially, Meerkat also had access to Twitter’s “social graph,” which allowed for the import of contacts. Twitter quickly moved to disable that functionality and keep it for themselves.

And unlike Meerkat, Periscope offers the option for a video to be saved for 24 hours.

The main issue with both apps is that they seem to be data hogs. If a user isn’t connected to wireless Internet, Meerkat utilizes 4 MB/minute to stream, and 2.3MB/minute to watch. It’s claimed Periscope used 400 MB in 30 minutes while viewing.

This can quickly add up and become expensive.

It’s intriguing that Meerkat and Periscope decided to debut on iOS, when Android undeniably has the larger market share in the U.S. Why not launch on both operating systems simultaneously? Seemingly, the true victor in this battle may be the one which hits the Google Play store first.

Author: Brian Cameron

Image via Shutterstock.

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