Is Meerkat all its cracked up to be? And just what is Periscope?

Those of you who work in digital marketing or are regular users of social media are likely to have seen ‘Meerkat’ pop up frequently over the past couple of weeks.

But have you taken the time to investigate what Meerkat is all about? Before you ask, no, the furry mongoose-like animal isn’t causing all the fuss, and there hasn’t been a resurgence in Russian car insurance cuddly toys either.

Meerkat is a live video streaming app that has taken the online world by storm – particularly by how effectively it was used at music and tech festival South by South West in digital start-up haven Austin, Texas.

So just why is the app ground-breaking? Well, Meerkat allows users to share live video instantaneously, a development in technology that now allows anyone with a smartphone to broadcast audio and video live. Meaning those who want to, have the opportunity to host their own live TV channel.

The possibilities are endless, from live talks and presentations to fashion shows and sporting events. Now any sports team, no matter the size or budget can access the necessary data connection to broadcast their team training live or post-match interviews.

The strength of Meerkat is that it combines the qualities of Snapchat, Twitter, Vine and Skype all into one app. Just what this could mean in the wider picture is yet to be realised.
When testing the app in the office we stumbled across a live presentation at Park University in the US and listened into the lecture – enabling us to listen in to a talk taking place thousands of miles away.

One key flaw to the app is its reliance on another social media platform – Twitter. And that platform has just released its own answer to the live video streaming app by buying a similar app, Periscope, for its own use.

In a move reminiscent to Instagram inserting video features into its app following the release and sharp rise in popularity of Vine, Twitter has been quick to try and shut down the impending popularity of Meerkat by providing a similar service.

If the move goes the same way as the Instagram versus Vine play then it could see Periscope profiting from Meerkat’s initial popularity, and eventually usurping the app.

Besides being an extension of Twitter, another key advantage Periscope has over Meerkat is the ability to re-watch the shared live content. On Meerkat, unfortunately once the live video stream is over, there are no reruns.

Just whether Meerkat or Periscope can reach their potential, and which of the two platforms will emerge victorious in the live video streaming war is yet to be seen. But one thing is for certain, with the increase of video on Facebook, and with other services such as Instagram, Dubsmash and Snapchat utilising video, the emergence in these two new platforms prove that 2015, like many predicted, will really be the year for video.

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