Meerkat launched at SXSW last year, and was met with some great enthusiasm. At the time, Periscope didn’t exist. Nor did Facebook Live. Meerkat was the first to bring live streaming video to the masses. Being able to go live to thousands – and in some cases millions – of people at the click of a button was a crazy idea. But it worked. Meerkat, like Periscope and Facebook Live, launched on iOS first then came to Android a bit later. It was pretty popular, at least for a start up. Then when it launched on Android it got a pretty mediocre response after its first few weeks. And that’s due to Periscope hitting the platform.
The CEO of Meerkat, Ben Rubin, figured out pretty quickly that it would be tough to compete against the likes of Twitter and Facebook, who already have massively large established audiences. In August, Rubin began to change the way Meerkat worked. And that was to take it from being solely about live streaming video, to being a social network. Where everyone is live, all the time.
Right now, Rubin is staying pretty quiet about what Meerkat is actually working on. While they haven’t released any notable new features since about September, they are still keeping the app up-to-date and seeing growth in the platform. The issue is there really aren’t any new broadcasters coming on board. However we will know more about this new social network direction that Meerkat is heading towards in the near future. As for now, it’s business as usual.
One of the bigger issues for Meerkat and something that both Twitter and Facebook are having, is getting users comfortable about streaming to the world. Sharing pictures is one thing, but live streaming video is another. Facebook has been going to Hollywood lately to lure in celebrities to use their Facebook Live service, which is currently mostly used by online personalities, and of course T-Mobile’s CEO John Legere. There’s bound to be a big battle between Periscope and Facebook Live in the near future, while Facebook does have a much larger user-base, it should be pretty interesting to watch.