Don’t know if you have noticed but the web is becoming obsessed with video. First off we had YouTube and the like with the publication of amateur video and the associated commenting.
Now the web has moved on from all that to conversational video. So has video killed the forum, the IRC, the blog. The interesting point for users in Australia is the low bandwidth of the broadband services can make the use of these services is all but impossible in some places. Still there are some interesting services now available:
We have Seesmic, this is still in alpha. I haven’t reviewed or really criticised Seesmic about its Adobe Flex based interface. It has a lot of problems, but they are slowly getting to them all one at a time it seems. What is Seesmic? Well it’s really like a forum of video conversations. Others have likened it to twitter with video; but it is more like a forum, you post a video like a forum post and people reply to that post, creating a separated stringed conversation on the topic at hand.
There is no text based chat component. Presently it is very hard to find friends, and to follow a conversation or topic. But overall Seesmic like twitter can be addictive. Seesmic would I feel work well in the mobile web space.
Then there is Ustream.tv. In the main, you can stream video from your webcam and have multiple audio inputs and a stream of IRC style responses. Ustream lacks the video conversations facility and is clearly targeting the single video broadcast to the wide audience model. This is good, but in my thinking this is a little old school method, and is just really an extension of services from a web cam that have been available for years.
And we have the mobile kid on the block, Qik.com. Qik allows you to stream videos from your phone for your friends to comment or reply with their own videos. You can also engage friends in Twitter or Facebook with the live video conversation (videosation). The really cool feature is that you can mash it with twitter and chat like in Ustream with the broadcaster as they stream their mobile videosation to the world. Again it’s a one to many service. The part that makes it really interesting is that the core is built around the mobile web.
Finally to top this off is Yahoo Live that started with a few rocky moments. Personally I had few problems getting Yahoo Live to work, and still have major issues with the flex application hanging my browser when I finish using it (that is close the tab).
Yahoo live allows you to create a video stream channel in which others can join you with their own streaming video conversations or lifecasts. This is supplemented with the use of a IRC facility.
The problems with Yahoo Live is that its hard to find and follow the conversation when over five people are all streaming at once. This brings back a major drawback of the interface. Clearly this was a limitation to reduce the throughput on bandwidth, but overall this could make the tool unworkable when a large group of people are using it.
There is no facility to zoom in a make another video the focus while maintaining the same channel. Oh and aside there is no social networking features and it’s not mobile enabled. Nice first cut Yahoo, but for your resources a little lame. I would check it out quick, as I can see it being first on the Microsoft shopping block.
So what is the Solution
Were is all this going? Good question, it’s centering around the conversation or constant life streaming. Which is good as that is what people are all about, interaction with others. It would be ideal to see a service that was all these things, especially focusing on the mobile web and not the fixed desktop:
- Static video conversation threads.
- Mobile web based streams.
- Multiple live conversational video streams (many to many).
- Supplemented with IRC.
- Live one to many and many to many (beyond 5) streaming
What do you think, have these services nailed it or are they all just off the mark a little?