Periscope: Flash in the Pan, or The Next Big Thing?

Born from a chance encounter in Turkey during the 2013 Gezi government protests, the now Twitter-owned Periscope live-streaming app officially made its debut today on the App Store.

Periscope allows users to stream live any event (mundane or otherwise) in real-time. Streams are available for viewing both in-app and on the web (an Android version is on the horizon); and, unlike recent viral hit Meerkat (which just, timely enough, had its access to Twitter’s social graph revoked two weeks ago), videos can be saved and viewed at a later time.

Image via Periscope

The latter, combined with access to the social graph & its overall user experience, gives the Periscope app an discernable immediate advantage over Meerkat and other live-streaming start-ups, despite Meerkat’s viral popularity earlier this month (courtesy, in part, of SXSW). In all fairness, though, Meerkat was reportedly built in just 8 weeks, while Periscope has been in development for a year. Still, Meerkat being built on-top of Twitter’s social graph may end up proving to be its downfall, now that users cannot quickly connect their Twitter handle and be linked-up with their friends & followers immediately.

So is live-streaming the next big thing in social media? Look, if I could accurately predict new major trends in tech, I’d probably be a Silicon Valley VC, and not writing this to you all today.

But, I think it’s worth a shot.

Twitter has already branched-out into the world of video — both with Vine and their own recently-launched endemic video platform. Vine and Twitter video offer distinctions from each other — one focuses on six-second clips; the other for longer videos — but don’t necessarily provide any differentiators to competitors’ established video products.

With Periscope, Twitter has a product that neither Google or Facebook truly provide in a mobile capacity.

Just yesterday, I wrote about how product segmentation will be critical for the long-term success of Facebook; the same can be said for Twitter. The company has clearly recognized this, and the launch of Periscope is just another step that Twitter is taking this year to diversify its portfolio (and become more attractive to Wall Street).

While I can’t say whether mobile live-streaming will be a major hit with social media enthusiasts, we’re already seeing apps like Periscope live in action. Just hours after the app’s release, as an explosion rocked NYC’s East Village, Periscope users were nearby to broadcast the event live.

Just imagine if Periscope was around for Ferguson?

So, yeah, there’s totally some very practical uses for live-streaming apps the likes of Periscope. Whether or not it catches on the way similar-but-not-the-same video services like SnapChat, Instagram, or Vine is a whole ‘nother story.

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