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Periscope versus Meerkat: Twitter’s Bizarre Video Streaming Battle

Birds and Beasts (and Periscopes)

Video streaming is quite possibly the biggest sticking point in the world of social media business at the moment. Startups are being snapped up left, right and centre and the pre-existing platforms are being endlessly updated and retrofitted. In the past few months alone Snapchat has made some significant improvements to its video aspect and a whole new, child friendly version of Vine has been introduced.

Twitter own Vine, and they are perhaps more interested in video sharing than anybody else at the moment, but now some controversy has started to develop, courtesy of two very different, but very closely connected apps: Meerkat and Periscope. That might sound like some weird children’s book title, but sadly the actual story doesn’t have any happy ending, or even a moral beyond ‘Twitter are ruthless’.

Meerkat is an iOS app that perhaps fits the Twitter format better than any other, even Vine. Using Meerkat, you can record and broadcast live video directly from your phone which the app will then link to all your Twitter contacts, creating an audience for your shenanigans for you, so you don’t have to bother.

It’s been available for a few weeks now and people have been really lapping it up, with the app flying to top of the download chart. You would think that Twitter would be delighted by all this, but instead the social media giant blocked Meerkat’s access to the Twitter social graph, rendering it almost completely useless. But why?

That’s where Periscope comes in. It’s another video sharing app that’s been in development for some time, Twitter’s interest in it has been no secret and at the end of last week it was confirmed that Twitter had indeed bought the app and the team back in January in a $100 million deal.

If you’re anywhere near as pessimistic as me, you can probably guess what the next twist in the tale is. Yep, that’s right, Periscope is remarkably similar, in form and function, to Meerkat. Supposedly Periscope is broader, allowing for recordings to be saved for later rather than just being broadcast live as with Meerkat, but being that they’ve had several dumptrucks’ worth of dead presidents to play around with since the beginning of the year, it’s hard to grant any real praise or leeway for that.

Meerkat were planning on developing their own social graph anyway, the use of Twitter’s one was only a stopgap solution, but this debacle will have still set them back considerably and by the time they finish patching it, Periscope may well already be with us. Twitter will be pleased wit h the news that a video broadcasting service linked through them was so warmly received by the public, it’s just a shame that a blameless Meerkat had to be trampled along the way.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Periscope versus Meerkat: Twitter’s Bizarre Video Streaming Battle Reviewed by Unknown on Wednesday, March 18, 2015 Rating: 5
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