Last week at South by Southwest, the smartphone app Meerkat made a big splash
Despite being less than three weeks old, it boasts an estimated 150,000 users and puts the power of broadcasting into the hands of anyone with a smartphone.
That's right, consumer video live streaming anywhere anytime.
I'd say Meerkat is right on schedule. Without question, we're on our phones more than we were 10 years ago. Smartphone usage has almost quadrupled in the last decade and we're generating a ton of content. So much content that an app like Meerkat is now desired in the market. After all what's better than feeling like you're there? Feeling like you're there in real time.
This is a video I made for our Kickstarter in September of 2014. It outlines the potential of pairing a 3D Audio capturing device like Hooke with a smartphone that is constantly connected to the internet.
I never understood why we weren't utilizing the live stream API's that already exist in the world to make a consumer live streaming app. Well, Meerkat has done it. Now that I've spent some time with the app, I'll explain how they've done it so well.
1. One Sign In Option
You can only sign in with a Twitter account. No Google, no Facebook, no email. Just Twitter. Meerkat knew its market. This channels all live streaming content straight to Twitter, a platform that benefits most from this technology because it's all about the immediacy of sharing and engaging with news.
This morning I was listening to NPR and heard a political correspondant say, "If Facebook shaped the presidential election of 2008 and Twitter shaped the election of 2012, Meerkat will shape the election of 2016".
We want content and we want it fast, live streaming it via a platform like twitter is the next step.
2. Instant Access
You press one button to sign in, immediately you're brought to a feed showing streams of those you follow. From there, you have three other buttons: search users, list of top performers, and your settings page.
The people just want to stream, let them do it in the quickest way possible.
3. Unless you choose otherwise, every stream you make has #meerkat attached to it.
Talk about immediate exposure. That's a hashtag that will trend quickly.
4. Your stream immediately displays on twitter while you're still in the Meerkat app, streaming your heart out
This keeps users in the app, which is key to software success. Most impressively, this lets Meerkat be its own beast while making Twitter seem like an added feature.
In designing the Hooke live streaming app, I imagined giving users the option to sign in with Twitter, Google, or Facebook would make it more successful because of its accessibility, but I see now how limiting login to one social media platform sharpens its effect. Users of Twitter, with its emphasis on the immediate, will benefit from a feature like this most. Hooke's market expands beyond just the twittersphere, but it's got me thinking about which specific login options to choose.
Some other features you can expect with the Hooke app are:
1. Location Based Streaming
This feature will be successful because of Meerkat's initial success. What Meerkat has instilled in every user is a type of muscle memory that tells us every day "people are streaming the world." If we accept this process just like we've grown to accept the act of someone "liking" our content on Facebook, we will grow to actively search for live streaming content. With the Hooke app, you can search Madison Square Garden and watch a Knicks game from the court or the nosebleeds. You can search Union Square and watch the latest protest or rally. All in 3D Audio.
Say you wanted to hear a live stream of the Tour De France from five years ago? True, after five years a video should drop its "live stream" pedigree, but you would still be able to access it within seconds thanks to the Hooke app's geotagging capabilities. Just search the location on the map and see all streams that have occurred in that spot since our launch.
The Hooke live stream app will be similar to Meerkat, but with 3D Audio. You don't have to own Hooke to make a stream and you don't have to own Hooke to experience a stream. But with Hooke, your streams will come to life in 3D Audio seamlessly. With Hooke, the being there experience you're trying to capture will rocket to the next level
Up until now, we've been consuming edited content - Vine Celebs / Instagram Models all rely heavily on editing and filters to help curate their content and show themselves in the best light. Meerkat's live streaming has no room for make-up and filters. And yes, filters are like cookies. We all hate them, but we secretly love them. Admit it. I'm not interested in filters that make you sound or look pretty, I'm interested in filters that make you creative.
Meerkats success shows that the world is ready for Hooke and that people want quality "be here" experiences in social media.
I've always set out to improve the way we tell stories on our mobile devices, streaming was just one piece of the puzzle. Yes, Meerkat succeeds in telling stories here but with inferior audio and a lot of information viewers just don't need. With all of the icons splayed about, the text constantly coming in and the controls all over the page, Meerkat feels more like a news streaming app than a storytelling one.
People want the being there experience. Now, let's move live streaming beyond the square screen. Let's make it more than just an news tool. Let's make it a creative story telling tool. Let's bring it to life and make it truly immersive. Let's turn being there into Being Hear.
From One Ear To Another,