Kyte Doesn’t Want Me As a User (Unless I’ll Pay)

Having given Qik and Flixwagon a spin for our live mobile coverage of red carpets and major launches, last weekend we gave competitor Kyte a try. En route to the YouTube Live event, I stopped by Om’s to borrow a Nokia N95, loaded it up with Kyte, and then simultaneously tried to product test and cover the YouTube circus.

It mostly worked, though the first hour or so was dicey. First of all, there’s not even a link to create a Kyte account on Kyte.com. You have to go to Kyte.tv. Then, I couldn’t get good enough 3G coverage to send video, much less livestream, and I didn’t realize all the hoops I’d have to jump through to be authenticated on YouTube’s Wi-Fi network. But eventually it came together, in time for me to stream a few cheesy backstage walkthroughs, some on-the-fly interviews, and some blurry shots of the show from my excellent seat.

I do like Kyte’s widget interface, where the most recent clip rises to the fore, but it’s not without its bugs; one clip ended up appearing four times in my stream, and I couldn’t default the embed to not autoplay. Furthermore, there’s no way for me to leave that embed as it is, with just the clips from YouTube Live, unless I never stream from that Kyte account again.

So after the fairly successful outing at YouTube Live, I stopped by Kyte this afternoon, where they are preparing to launch branded mobile web pages as well as the incorporation of Google AdSense for Video tomorrow. Kyte CMO Gannon Hall told me that my difficulty getting between Kyte.com and Kyte.tv is actually a matter of design; the company is deemphasizing its consumer product. In fact, he said, despite the fact that Kyte had encouraged me to try their product for the event, I was actually breaking their terms of service by showing the widget on a commercial page.

So who does Kyte want as users? Publishers like Huffington Post, musicians like 50 Cent (both are active users). They would take me too, but I’d have to pay — starting at around $50 per month for basic service and $1,000 for high-level service (actual pricing plans will be set in January, said Hall). Kyte also plans to improve its content management tools so customers can get the level of service they’d expect with a Brightcove-like video platform. Which, if they’re going to ask you to pay, is only fair.

My hands-on test was informative — I’d say of Kyte, Qik, and Flixwagon, Qik has the easiest video publishing experience and the least hiccups encountered in my use. But I could see the value in paying to upgrade to a more stable and full-featured service.

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