Vodio, a free personalized video-finding app, makes the leap from iPad to iPhone on Tuesday, just eight months after the app debuted from Tel Aviv-based Vodio Labs. The team has made some changes to the user interface in order to slim down from the larger tablet to the smaller smartphone screen, and it’s added a new feature called Highlights, which, yes, highlights what Vodio does best: bringing users the most personalized feed of video content from all over the web into one app.
Vodio improves as you use it; it has 90 curated channels of video content, and users tell it what categories of videos they like (like Sports, Tech, and Food). Users can also connect social media accounts to it, and based on Facebook likes or Twitter subscriptions, in addition to the videos they watch, Vodio will continue to refine the videos it shows to match a user’s tastes. If you like Stephen Colbert on Facebook, for example, Vodio’s algorithm will rank videos with Colbert higher and will add these to your video feed. It’s similar to Frequency and Squrl, which are built around your personal preferences, as opposed to Shelby.tv and ShowYou, apps that are populated with videos shared by your friends.
It’s easy to see why Vodio went iPad-first — the larger tablet screen is well-suited to what Vodio does: easily and seamlessly let users toggle through their chosen feeds of videos with simple swipes. (There’s a reason it’s been called “the Flipboard of video.”) So why didn’t the Vodio Labs team opt to expand to other large-screened mobile devices, like Android next? I asked co-founder Jonathan Messika that question last week in a Skype interview.
Vodio Labs is actually just three guys in Tel Aviv. They set out to make Vodio for the iPad because “we thought we could make a visually beautiful app that could stand out,” Messika said. And they’ve certainly struck a chord: since January they’ve acquired around 240,000 registered users of the app.
However, it turns out that even though the app was iPad-only, it was pretty popular among iPhone users too. “With the iPhone the thing is that the user base is huge, and we’ve seen more and more people — surprisingly — use the iPhone to watch [our] video content,” he said. “We thought we should go to the iPhone next rather than Android tablets because we saw there’s huge growth of viewing habits over the iPad.”
The installed base of the iPhone does far overshadow that of the iPad — Apple’s sold around 244 million iPhones since mid-2007 versus about 84 million iPads since early 2010. But Vodio’s own data revealed more valuable information. Any Vodio user can share a video link via Twitter, Facebook or email with others. If they don’t have the app it’ll go to Vodio’s mobile website. The Vodio guys were seeing that half of the traffic to its mobile website was coming from the iPhone’s mobile browser. So the decision to address that group was fairly obvious, said Messika.
But it’s not just data that’s driving Vodio to avoid Android for now. The teams also prefers the pressures that building for iOS users brings. “It’s not a secret that iOS users are more picky,” Messika said. “They have higher standards and appreciate lovely design. We want to make sure to test ourselves with a pickier audience before we [address] an audience that is more diverse.”