New York City-based question-and-answer video site VYou has gone mobile, enabling its users to respond to messages from wherever they are with a new iPhone app. The company has also added status updates to its communication options, which could put it in closer competition with mobile messaging services like Tout.
The addition of the iPhone app gives users another option for recording short video messages and responding to questions from followers. No longer must users log in through a web browser in order to answer messages on the service; now they can record those messages with their phone’s video camera on the go and upload them whenever and wherever they have an active network connection.
In addition to the mobile application, which was just launched, VYou has also added a new way for members to use the service. Previously, users typically responded to questions that were thrown at them by friends and followers, as a way to interact with the community at large. Now, VYou has recently introduced the concept of the “status update,” which lets its users check in and tell followers what they’re up to at any given time. (I took advantage of both the mobile app and status updates to record a short bit about my afternoon at AT&T Park yesterday. Check it out below.)
Introducing status updates could pave the way for more activity from VYou’s users. As VYou CMO Rex Sorgatz admitted in a phone interview last week, one problem with the Q&A nature of the site is that new users might not have questions to respond to until they begin following others and start attracting followers of their own. Status updates therefore give users a way to express themselves without necessarily responding to prompts from others.
But adding status updates also puts VYou more closely into competition with other short video messaging services — most notably Tout. Tout launched earlier this year with an iPhone app that enables users to record 15-second videos to share with their friends.
Interestingly enough, at the same time that VYou is moving from the browser to mobile and from a strictly conversational interaction to more one-off updates of what its users are doing, Tout has been heading in the inverse direction; it now allows recording from the web, and has added the ability to send messages between users to increase interaction between them.
Both services also have a celebrity component: While Tout has signed up folks like Shaquille O’Neal and Jeff Probst, VYou hosts the profiles of folks like Deepak Chopra, Bob Vila, Michael Showalter and Andrew W.K. But Sorgatz wrote in a followup email, “We definitely don’t like to think of the site as a ‘celebrity’ site, so I don’t want to over-emphasize those… Also, they are all currently active and they found us, rather than us trying to acquire them.”
Sorgatz also believes VYou’s focus on messaging between users sets it apart from the large — and growing — number of apps that enable users to record short videos to share with friends. By building that community over time, VYou hopes to be less of a platform for video sharing, and more of a means for connecting users with each other.
VYou currently has 16 employees, more than half of which are focused on engineering and product development. While the iPhone app marks the company’s first mobile application, it won’t be its last. Sorgatz said Android and iPad versions are both in development.