Up Periscope? The Buzz Around Twitter’s New Feature

March 26, 2015

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Early this morning, I sent an alert to my colleagues: “The new hotness in personal live streaming is Periscope from Twitter, available as of roughly 38 seconds ago: http://www.engadget.com/2015/03/26/periscope/. DOWNLOAD IT. Plus, per influencer @AndrewKam on Twitter, it allows for easy replay post-event (Meerkat not so much at the moment). This is our life, people, get on it!”

OK, so it’s slightly tongue in cheek. But at SXSW (and, even more recently, some high-profile start-up events), Twitter-centric live-streaming app Meerkat was one of the hottest apps. When Twitter quickly took away some key capabilities that Meerkat was accessing and acquired competitor Periscope, it was huge news. Would Meerkat survive? Would Twitter’s own live-streaming function be able to match Meerkat, or would people see it as a second-place, me-too play and complain about Twitter yet again killing the APIs that power innovation? And when would they launch Periscope? Well, we found out today when Twitter quickly released its latest app. We downloaded it, tried it at our Trends Briefing and, well, they just may have a winner.

The Good

  • The “Watch” feed allows you to watch live streams regardless if you follow the account. For now, this will allow for larger audience growth from curious users who are browsing what is streaming.
  • You can replay streams you have viewed recently, and that could be useful for a number of reasons. For example, if a brand is making a live announcement, press from all over the world can rewatch for information and quotes as they report a story.
  • The person filming is able to use the camera in both portrait and landscape directions, which gives the stream more freedom to capture what they want. Meerkat only allows for a portrait camera stream.
  • When comparing Meerkat and Periscope based on look and feel, it is quite obvious that Periscope has been in development for quite some time. After comparing with Meerkat, which is still in a bare bones phase, just based on looks, Periscope has a leg up.

The Bad

  • Full integration with Twitter is still not possible. While we weren’t able to tweet a link to the live stream, it appears that other Periscope users were able to do that. It appears that the main integration with Twitter is with posting offline streams, giving Meerkat the upper hand when it comes to live engagement.
  • Because embedding links from Periscope to Twitter is not possible and/or not consistent yet, users must navigate the “watch feed” to find what they’re looking for, and it doesn’t sort out between the “all live streams” and streams from accounts users are following.

Early News Media Reviews

  • Joanna Stern, WSJ:
    • “I’ve been using the app for the last week. I do prefer the clean, fast and friendly design to Meerkat’s lackluster interface, not to mention the fact that I can actually watch streams that are no longer live.”
  • Lance Ulanoff, Mashable:
    • On replay and data usage: “Periscope auto-saves every broadcast and, as soon as you’re done, uploads the whole thing to Periscope so people can watch streams from people they follow even if they’re not live. I like this feature, but the fact that Periscope has to upload that video file does make me wonder how it’ll impact data usage (not in a good way, certainly). Twitter compares Periscope’s data usage to that of Apple’s FaceTime video chat app.”
    • On engagement with the live stream: “During a live stream, you can comment and the broadcaster will see the comments. Because so few people were watching each stream, people often responded directly to me on camera. In Meerkat, every comment is a Twitter reply to the original Meerkat Live video prompt tweet. Here, however, Periscope fundamentally differs from Meerkat.”
    • “I’m kind of surprised that Twitter isn’t taking integration further. The lack of it is what could keep Meerkat humming along nicely, even in the face of what’s sure to be formidable competition from the more polished Periscope.”
  • Casey Newton, The Verge:
    • “For everything it got right, Meerkat still looks like an app built in eight weeks — which it was. Periscope has been in development for more than a year, and the app arrives showing nice attention to detail.”
  • Roberto Baldwin, The Next Web
    • “Meerkat has traction. It has users. It has a term for streaming video, “Meerkatting.” Sometimes, being first, even when the app isn’t as polished as a competitor, is enough to keep you ahead of the curve. Even when a rival has the power of a social media giant like Twitter behind it.

Concluding Thoughts

Periscope has a great look and feel, but its lack of integration and opportunity for engagement leaves users something to be desired. The replay feature is definitely a plus but may not be strong enough to truly be a “Meerkat-killer.” Considering the app launched publicly this morning, there are several kinks still to be sorted out. Will it kill Meerkat’s growth? It’s too soon to tell, but we expect rapid updates to the app in the race to be the go-to live-stream app.