Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Twitcam Goes Live on Twitter, Trumps the Competition

I had a chance to test Twitcam this past evening, the new live video streaming Twitter mash-up from Livestream (formerly Mogulus), and see firsthand what happens when live video meets Twitter. According to Livestream, Twitcam is the first application that lets Twitter users add live streaming video to their Twitter feeds with a webcam and a click of the button. Twitcam.com was taken from concept to product in a week thanks to a soon-to-be-announced player API (application programming interface) from Livestream and trumps CamTweet, the offering by live video streaming competitor Justin.tv that debuted just ten days earlier at TechCrunch's Real Time Stream CrunchUp and entered in a private beta today.

Erick Schonfeld noted that,"It is a really simple, but powerful idea. So simple, in fact, that one of Justin.TV’s competitors, Livestream CEO Max Haot (who was watching the demo from New York via UStream, another live Web video competitor) decided to create the exact same product using Livestream’s new, yet-to-be released APIs."

pointed out that Justin.tv learned a painful lesson about being discrete with a business idea until it goes live and confirmed through a Livestream spokeswoman that Max Haot did in fact see the live demo and quickly created his own app saying, "it shows how rapidly Livestream, and technology in general, is moving."


From a user standpoint it's really easy to use and I was able to start "video Tweetcasting" within just a few minutes after a few simple steps. Twitter users need only to log in to Twitcam.com with their existing Twitter account and a webcam and press the ‘Broadcast Live’ button. Twitcam automatically detects the camera, creates a page and live video player for the broadcast, and posts the link in the user’s Twitter feed so followers can join in live. A Livestream account is not needed and a unique Twitcam live broadcast page is created from your Twitter profile. Recent broadcasts are stored on your profile page.

Within minutes of starting my broadcast and sending my first Tweet I was joined by several friends who were able to watch my live video feed and chat with me. Thanks to @Schuras @SafetyGeeksSVI @Gennefer @spotcher and anyone else I may have missed for helping me with the test by joining the live broadcast.

From my page I could see all the Tweets centralized within a real-time chat interface. Each Tweet is created when you enter something in the live chat and the Tweets include the broadcast page URL along with a mention of your Twitter name. @Gennefer said, "It was fun! I've been wanting to check it out and assess potential use cases. Would've been perfect for #dewlabs interaction." She also thought that "Could be interesting for cooperative entertainment experiences, but I couldn't see the other viewers' posts."

There are a few issues that need work and with the open API there may be possible improvements. Not seeing each others posts is a real drawback and it would be ideal for the Tweets to be aggregated into an interface for all viewers to see. The video size of the archive recording at 320 x 240 is a little small for most applications. I also didn't embed the video in this post because the default for the video is autoplay which most people find extremely annoying. You can though see my broadcast test here.

Amit Desai listed a number or ways that both that Twitcam and CamTweet can strengthen relationships going beyond simple chat to deeper video communications for marketers, businesses, researchers, academia and families. 

Adding live video to Twitter really turns the worldwide talk show into a real live talk show. It makes the makes the conversation a real conversation with a live video stream driving the Twitter stream.

Twitcam is free and available today at http://www.twitcam.com.

Follow Livestream (livestreamcom) on Twitter

About Livestream
Livestream (www.livestream.com - formerly Mogulus) provides everything needed to easily webcast live, build an engaged audience and monetize these efforts. Founded in 2007, the company is based in New York and includes Gannett Co. as a minority shareholder and investor. Producers can use Livestream to create live, linear and on-demand Internet television to broadcast anywhere on the Web through a single embeddable player widget. The service comes in two flavors: Free (ad-supported) and Premium (ad-free, white-label, higher-quality). Unique features include the ability to mix multiple live cameras, overlay graphics, and desktop streaming with 3D effects.