These days, it’s rare to come across a startup in the online video space that’s doing something we can’t name five competitors for. But it happened this week with SideKlick, whose concept of providing relevant video based on cues from instant messaging conversations is just wacky enough to seem original. Of marginal utility, perhaps… but original.
Because SideKlick is currently Windows-only, we haven’t had as good of an opportunity to play with it as we’d have liked. Check out the demo below for a taste. Let us know what you think if you give the product itself a spin.
SideKlick, a spinoff of enterprise messaging company MECA Communications, first became available to the public this week with the release of its AIM plug-in. The company, which has seed funding from MECA, is trying to patent its methods for finding and delivering entertainment based on conversational content. It’s targeting the high school and college demographic of intensive IM users.
The deal is: if you use a keyword in the SideKlick vocabulary, the service picks, embeds, and displays a matching video in a window riding alongside your IM. You can also share individual videos directly with other users.
For now, this isn’t synced up video-watching along the lines of Clipsync, but rather a personalized video stream to add another dimension to IM. A video jam session of sorts can be set up if two users are chatting with just each other, and therefore seeing the same video at just about the same time.
This sounds fun enough, except for the fact that the content of many IM conversations is terrifically mundane: so-and-so teacher is boring; such-and-such boy is cute. SideKlick founder Dennis Faust offers counter-example prompts such as “skateboarding,” “anime,” and “Stanford band,” which would bring up videos that could either become the focus of the conversation or just a visual component to it. Within Faust’s young target demographic, “distraction” is not a bad word.
For those with privacy concerns, Faust responds this is all done locally on the client, and only relevant keywords are sent as search terms to video services like YouTube and Revver. However, he added, a browser version (and support for other IM networks) is in the works, so in the future, that might not be the case.
Faust wants to turn the five-month-old project into a business, and says he is working on signing advertising partnerships and raising venture capital. While we’d have to say this is more of a feature, we’ve seen avatar plays like WeeWorld get a lot of play via distribution deals with IM networks.
The major IM networks are all owned by companies with video sites, and we’ve already heard about one portal’s plan to combine the two in an interview about Microsoft’s Soapbox. But that’s not mutually exclusive with SideKlick’s filtering scheme. Just like widgeting your way into MySpace, incorporating into a medium like IM where people spend so much of their time is a good way to boost a young startup.