Looking more like a web video sharing site than a mobile video sharing site, Zannel could become a popular bridge between the two platforms. Publishing to the site is as easy as publishing to YouTube or any other service, and sending content to your, or a friend’s, mobile phone is as easy as clicking ‘share’ and typing in their number or email address. The site just recently went public with their beta, but have been running a private beta and user generated content contest since last year.
Content partners include the X-Prize Foundation, Konami and Warner Brothers — but I’m far more interested in the self-publishing and self-promotional tools. For instance, as part of the promotional campaign, Warner will be giving a prize away to the first person who sends the trailer for 300 to 300 people. A monumental task if you actually had to do it from your phone, but relatively easy to do from the web site (though still time consuming). In a press release, Zannel COO Steven Hoffman explains the idea:
We think it’s a really compelling way for content creators to quickly build word-of-mouth excitement for their content to a national audience of 210 million mobile subscribers.
It solves the problem of serving multiple phones and carriers by using SMS and email, sending links which video and web enabled phones can easily follow for content. More importantly, it fails gracefully — while the video didn’t work on my cheap Nokia, I could still send the message to my email address to watch online later. The site itself is easy enough to browse. The only thing I’d think to add is the ability to embed video from Zannel on blogs like a regular video sharing site. But then I always want to be able to embed video, since it makes my posts that much more entertaining (and would serve the promotional ends of the content creator, no doubt).
StartupSquad has reported that Zannel is working with $6 million in Series A funding from U.S. Venture Partners and Palomar Ventures, and noted youth technology and culture blog Ypulse named the site a ‘social mobile network to watch.’ But like every other web service, it doesn’t matter how cool your technology is or how many big name partnerships you wrangle — what matters is reaching a critical mass of users. Considering how easy it is to spread the word about the service, and how further refinements could make it even easier, Zannel seems to have a good chance to reach a very wide audience indeed.