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What Blogger did for personal publishing, Decentral.tv wants to do for video. The San Francisco-based company, which has raised capital from well-known venture capitalists (the same gang that backed Skype), wants to turn its Kyte.tv (which we covered last week) offering into a platform that allows everyone to publish their own “television channels” and make them accessible everywhere – on your mobiles, personal computers and eventually television.
Sounds narcissistic? That’s exactly what makes it perfect for the self-obsessed times we live in. We had a chance over the weekend to catch up with Decentral CEO Daniel Graf, who outlined his vision for Kyte.tv and video content publishing/consumption across multiple platforms — web, mobile, and eventually television.
“We do nothing new, but we take the TV world and bring it to the online world,” said Graf. “Like instant messaging and VoIP are real-time, we want to do that for digital media.” Modesty aside, his product — at least in demo phase — impresses, because it is blazing fast.
The company has a J2ME mobile client that is super simple to use and works with some of the trendier phones including Nokia’s and Sony Ericsson’s latest. The application not only allows you to post videos and photos to your teevee channel, it also is a receiver for the channels you have subscribed to. (The CDMA network operators such as the Sprint force their customers to use their own picture messaging service, and as a result are incompatible with the Kyte offering.)
Users snap a video (or a photo) with their camera/video phone and then send an email with the attached file to their Kyte account, and a few seconds later the video is transcoded and playing on your channel for all to see. If you do have a compatible phone (or live outside the U.S.) you’ll be able to do cool things like life-streaming, where your phone takes a picture at a set interval and broadcasts it on your account — a real-life stop-motion film.
The service is built on Adobe’s Flex 2, like some other cool products we’ve written about lately. For watching Kyte on your computer, you also may need to upgrade your Flash to the very latest version. The entire backend is written in Java, Graf told us, and is one of the reasons why the service is almost real-time.
We also learned a bit more about the team at Decentral — after building digital music hardware for companies like Philips, they started on this project (circa July 2005) with the intent of targeting television channels such as HBO and MTV. Along the way, they changed focus to user-generated content.
Raising $2.25 million in funding from Draper Richards, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Niklas Zennström, and Ron Conway, Decentral
purchased traded equity for part of ThumbJive (Katie had previously written about how the other half went to Veeker) for its J2ME and BREW platform for mobile apps (as well as its lease in San Francisco’s Union Square, which is a hard place to get to on Chinese New Year, I might add).
Though Kyte will likely primarily be an ad-supported service, Graf said the company is going to explore some alternatives. For instance, private channels might cost $2 per month, and brands could pay for promotions — e.g. Audi puts out a call to take pictures of a certain hot new car somewhere around town and send them in within the next 24 hours, with the prize of a free test drive next weekend.
Kyte will not be open to the public until at least April, but Graf has given us 50 invite codes to distribute to NewTeeVee/GigaOM readers. Here is how it will work: go to http://gigaom.kyte.tv/ and enter your email address and the invite code kyte4gigaom. Kyte will let you into the program over the next two to three weeks.
With additional reporting by Om Malik.