Vuclip, the Secret Mobile-Video Phenom

What if I were to tell you there was a mobile-video startup you’d never heard of that sees 100 million page views per month from users in 130 countries using 2,000 different devices? Don’t worry, pigs still can’t fly.

But Vuclip, which is officially launching Tuesday after spending a year under the name Blueapple.mobi, has a mobile video search interface accessible through the web and WAP. The Milpitas, Calif.-based company transcodes videos on the fly for playback on each handset, and from my experience, it works extremely quickly and well.

As part of the new release Vuclip is adding personalization features like playlists, sharing and alerts, and releasing an API.

The unpublicized Blueapple site achieved such massive usage, according to CEO Nickhil Jakatdar, in part because major international carriers started noticing how much data transfer it was requiring just based on word-of-mouth users. Rather than blocking the service, as Jakatdar feared, some carriers, whom he would not name on the record, cut deals to offer Blueapple prominently on their portals.

With that track record, Vuclip was able to score $8.1 million in funding from NEA, Index Ventures and strategic investors in January.

My concern about Vuclip is I’m not sure web-wide video search is the way people find the videos they want to watch, especially when they’re on the go with a phone. Jakatdar used the example of showing off a family video from a mobile handset as a likely use case — but I’d think people would tend to store personal videos locally, on email, or at a known URL.

But I agree with Jakatdar that search is a better approach than offering a selected portion of clips from a web video portal, or creating content especially for the phone, as many other mobile video startups do. And he has a whole lotta page views backing him up.

Jakatdar previously sold a design-for-manufacturing startup to Cadence Design Systems. Vuclip/Blueapple, which was founded in 2004, also previously sold off a video chat product it had developed before turning to video search.

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