Are you wondering why your Twitter feed is filling up with something called Meerkat? People are going crazy for the new live video streaming app that already has gained millions of users in just a few days including Twitter celebs like Ashton Kutcher.
Meerkat is a video streaming app that allows you to post live video to Twitter in just one click. The seamless integration with one of the world's most popular social media platforms had led to incredibly fast global growth.
Taking a leaf out of Snapchat's book, the video is ephemeral, meaning it cannot be watched back and disappears once recording stops. A copy is stored on the recording phone which in theory could be uploaded elsewhere, but it won't be seen on Meerkat again. Users can however schedule a Meerkat video to give followers advance warning of when they'll be broadcasting.
The first "Rule of Meerkat" states that "Everything that happens on Meerkat, happens on Twitter". That is if you share a video on Meerkat it is automatically posted to Twitter. Anyone watching that video can then stream your video to all of their followers in real time as long as you're still recording, so your little video could potentially reach a large audience very quickly. For this reason, presumably, the last two rules of Meerkat warn "everyone can watch on the Web" and "Be kind".
The app also has a gamification draw. Users gain points for watching and streaming videos and there is a global leaderboard, showcasing Meerkat's power users which currently include Ashton Kutcher and former Mashable editor Ben Parr.
Meerkat is made by San Francisco-based Life on Air, a startup that announced a $3.6 million raise last month and was previously known as Yevvo. Other apps like Twitcasting and Bambuser have tried similar things in the past without generating such interest. Bambuser gained popularity during the Arab Spring when it allowed people to broadcast the uprisings live, but it hasn't grown from there.
Perhaps Meerkat has just got its timing right and the world is now ready for live streaming video, but don't bank on the app being around 12 months from now. Capturing interesting live footage is notoriously difficult. Posting interesting edited video on YouTube is one thing, but most peoples' lives aren't that interesting at any one time, so there's a fair chance people could get bored pretty quickly. Plus, the app is completely reliant on Twitter so if CEO Dick Costolo decides he doesn't like it, he could shut down Meerkat overnight. Then again who would have thought Snapchat would ever be worth $19 billion?