Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Justin.tv Launches Socialcam Mobile Video-Sharing App

Justin.tv, the live video service, today launched an application called Socialcam to help users share video taken on their iPhone and Android devices.

The service uses Justin.tv’s mobile live-streaming infrastructure, so videos are uploaded as much as possible while users are still taking them. If users don’t have Internet access, the video will upload when it can and then send a push notification. But there’s nothing live about Socialcam.

The intent, instead, is to encourage mobile video-sharing the way apps like Instagram encourage photo-sharing. The photo-sharing app Path does offer video uploads, but it limits them to 10 seconds, and even so I’ve had uploads fail. Justin.tv has four years’ worth of experience with video uploads, so it hopes it can get the job done.

The Socialcam app, which obviously has different branding than Justin.tv, came out of Justin.tv’s live mobile broadcasting app, which launched eight months ago and has been downloaded four million times. The company was getting 20 to 30 percent of broadcasts from mobile and finding that mobile broadcasters were far more likely to share their clips on Facebook and Twitter, said Justin.tv namesake and President Justin Kan. But 90 percent of the views of mobile videos were after the fact. It just wasn’t that important that mobile videos be watchable live.

Socialcam asks users to log into Facebook and invites them to share videos via Facebook, Twitter, email and SMS. Videos are public by default, but there’s no directory to find them, so viewers will need to have the URL or see them shared somewhere. Users can also see a stream of their Socialcam friends’ videos within the app, and like and share them directly.

When Facebook friends are included and tagged in Socialcam videos, the videos are automatically posted to their Facebook walls, just like that service’s native photo-tagging feature. In fact, Socialcam seems similar to what Facebook might launch if it ever put any development resources into video, or if YouTube put more focus on personal and social video, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Another interesting approach to mobile video sharing I saw recently is HighlightCam, which is sort of like Animoto for iPhone videos–automatically remixing videos into a montage of the most interesting segments. Socialcam, on the other hand, doesn’t do video editing or filters. “Filters don’t make videos interesting,” was the justification Kan gave me.

It’s not clear that people need yet another app just for mobile video uploads, but at least Socialcam addresses a real issue: It’s hard to get videos off of phones without using a cord. Whether the company can create its own mobile video community is another question.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik