Meerkat is trending. This is a fact. Partly it is trending because it’s a new name on the social media scene and partly because of its issues with Twitter’s Open Graph. But Meerkat is not new, nor is it innovative. It’s old and automated.
Meerkat has been described as SnapChat for live video with the added benefit of being tied into Twitter, so that all of your followers get the link to your live stream.
Here is where I have some issues. First and foremost, live streaming isn’t new. Ustream, Livestream, YouTube and Google Hangouts have all been around and all allow you to stream from a mobile device. Then it’s tied into Twitter to let all your followers have the link to your stream, but any social media savvy person would share the link anyway; it doesn’t need to be automated, it’s just the right thing to do.
So Meerkat has made live streaming easier to share by automating a tweet notification, which is hardly groundbreaking. So it’s not groundbreaking and it’s highly derivative, what gives? Well, that’s part hype and part exclusivity.
The exclusivity part is easy: Meerkat was launched exclusively on iOS devices, which is less than 50% of the smartphone market in the US. They say that an Android version is coming, but they launched it for less than half the market which makes it exclusive to less than half the market. The hype part is all related to launching around #SXSW and then making the news headlines in tech magazines and sites all over after being dropped from Twitter’s Open Graph two hours after launch.
The hype from #SXSW, combined with the news of being dropped from Twitter’s Open Graph, blew up the media storm surrounding Meerkat. Then came the additional information that Twitter has recently purchased Periscope, which basically does the same thing.
To me it doesn’t matter. The pioneers of live streaming are old hats now, and what Meerkat has created is not even the next logical step. The next logical step would be something more than live stream, not live stream with some twitter integration.
I like innovation. I enjoy innovation. But it needs to actually be innovative. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe the world doesn’t care as long as it is new, but I care.
The thumb drive was innovative. But the difference between the first one of a few MB to the GB and TB thumb drives of today isn’t innovation; what it is is a natural progression. But Meerkat doesn’t seem like a natural progression. If I was doing a Ustream, I would tweet it to my followers. Saving me that tweet hardly seems like a natural progression. Also, they’re going to interact with my via twitter, so again doing it somewhere else just changes the location of the conversation, not the actual conversing.
I have nothing against the guys who came up with the idea for Meerkat, nor the venture capitalists who jumped on board or the thousands of people who are using it. I just wish we celebrated bigger steps forward more often. Meerkat doesn’t seem like the next big thing, because it isn’t. It is only the next thing; that’s it.
And sometimes the next thing is fine and sometimes it goes boom, but I don’t get hyped for the next thing. I get hyped for the next big thing.