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Summary:

One of my long-standing beliefs is that we are going from communicating online to interacting online, and a key component of that big shift is easy availability of live video, thanks to the easy availability of broadband, 3G wireless and cheap cameras on cell phones. That […]

One of my long-standing beliefs is that we are going from communicating online to interacting online, and a key component of that big shift is easy availability of live video, thanks to the easy availability of broadband, 3G wireless and cheap cameras on cell phones. That is why start-ups such as Qik, Kyte, and Flixwagon that enable these live interactions are interesting to me.

Qik, a Foster City, Calif.-based company that we broke the story on last December, has become very popular with the blogger crowd, who have done a great job of evangelizing a service that so far has been available to owners of really expensive Nokia phones like the N95 (GigaOM handset review). Today Qik took first step towards becoming more egalitarian and announced that its service will now work on Motorola Q and Samsung BlackJack devices, both smartphones powered by Windows Mobile operating system. The Qik service is now in limited availability through an invitation-only alpha program.

A few words about how Qik works. A simple piece of software installed on a phone with built-in video camera captures the video and sends it to the Qik servers, where it is displayed via a browser. Many people are using Qik to live stream conversations and acting like a television channel of one. That approach has gotten the company enough headlines, which have translated into $4 million in funding.

The big opportunity for Qik and other live streamers is not in being a broadcaster for few, but instead it is all about enabling interactions between small groups – families, friends and colleagues spread across various geographies, something I wrote about in my column for the now defunct Business 2.0 magazine.

We are not close to being there — Qik, FlixWagon, Kyte and others are still a curiosity for now, and a long way from being mainstream. Bringing Qik to Windows Mobile platform is one of the steps in what is going to be a rather long journey.

  1. To your point about interacting online there is a key differentiating feature that Qik has compared to it’s competitors. In fact, there are 3 differentiating features in Qik.

    Qik’s delivery of chat into the video capture window makes real-time, live interaction with one’s audience possible. The other companies providing live video don’t include that feature. It’s the difference between broadcasting and interacting.

    The second important difference with Qik is auto wi-fi discovery. With Flixwagon, one must set the device to the wi-fi network before starting the app. Qik’s device integration is superior. It will perform auto discovery and connection to a wi-fi network from inside the application.

    And finally, another example of the better device integration is the use of the camera’s zoom by Qik. At least one of the other clients you mention doesn’t provide zoom during video capture. Qik does.

    Porting clients to additional devices is important, and I would anticipate Qik providing an iPhone client sometime after the new device becomes available.

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  2. Hi Debi, actually Flixwagon does have chat overlaying the video so that you can see people chat as you are broadcasting on your mobile.

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  3. [...] The company is also adding mobile broadcasting capabilities, which it released to consumer users a few weeks ago. While many broadcasters might be interested in white-label mobile broadcasting, at this point the Ustream/Watershed service is limited to high-end Nokia handsets. Competitors in the consumer space like Qik have moved onto other platforms, such as Blackberry and Windows Mobile. [...]

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  4. This is interesting, but in some countries with limited or expensive 3G plans, it is useless at the moment :)

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