Twitter meets real-time video as two streaming apps compete in the iOS space. Android users won't have to wait too long
March 30 2015: When Twitter first burst on the social media scene in mid 2006, it was what its name suggested: "a short burst of inconsequential information" limited to 140 characters. Critics lampooned Twitter: "1 pm: My cat sneezed. 1.02 pm: My cat sneezed again. 1.04: Cat hasn't sneezed recently. Getting worried." They wondered who would be interested in hearing other people's trivia. They were so wrong.
Today, Twitter had 500 million registered users who send 350 million tweets every day. Celebrity tweets have lakhs of followers. Last week Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, came together to inaugurate Twitter Samvad, the world's first e-governance and citizen service initiative.(IndiaTechOnline story here)
Even while Costolo was leaving Delhi, his company back in San Francisco had launched a new Twitter service: An app called Periscope, which let users go live with a single touch, with whatever the video camera of their phone or tablet was recording, with notifications to all their 'followers' or to a subset. For the followers it's not a passive experience: they can influence the broadcaster by sending messages or just tapping the screen which sends heart-shaped icons of approval. The creators of Periscope imagine it as a 'visual pulse of what's happening'. Twitter felt the same way -- and acquired Periscope only weeks ago for a rumoured $ 100 million, before rolling it out as a free iOS app last week. Android versions can be expected soon.
Periscope comes hard on the heels of an iPhone and iPad app called Meerkat, launched last month, which does pretty much the same thing. Periscope has one function missing in Meerkat -- the ability to store and replay the videos later. Both work only with Twitter -- and are all set to change the contours of social communication in a big way. They are revolutionary in their minor detail too: The video is vertical or in 'portrait' mode only -- so that people can shoot and send with one hand. Gone are the days when video or movie meant a 'landscape' format.
Twitter lets you say what was happening to you or around you in 140 characters of text. Meerkat and Periscope let you show it in live, moving images -- the delay is less than 10 seconds, rivalling what the best of TV and Internet broadcast stations can do.
Critics are calling it 'consensual voyeurism'; but live mobile video streaming from your own phone -- for better or worse -- is all set to be the biggest noise in social media in 2015. Shoot and share! Anand Parthasarathy
For a few days we feature the Twitter Periscope Video in our TechVideo spot on the home page