The gauntlet has officially been thrown down in what is bound to become a contentious battle of live-streaming video apps.
Today, Twitter officially launched Periscope, an app it acquired for a reported $100 million last January, which allows users to initiate live video streams with a simple touch. Available now for iOS devices, an Android version is coming soon.
Perhaps uncoincidentally, Periscope arrives on the same day that its chief rival, Meerkat, raised a reported $12 million in a Series A funding round from investors like Greylock Partners, Ashton Kutcher and Jared Leto, at a valuation of $40 million. Using the prayer hands emoji, Meerkat tweeted that it would announce its funding -- via Meerkat, naturally -- today at noon.
While Meerkat took the app world by storm earlier this month and became the talk of the town at SXSW, it may face an uphill battle given that Twitter, with its emphasis on immediacy, is a natural home for the live-streaming video landscape. Last week, for instance, Twitter dealt Meerkat a devastating blow by blocking access to its social graph.
And if Meerkat is beloved, Periscope has been met with similarly rave reviews. Tech reviewers have praised its ability to record live streams for later viewing as well as a feature that allows viewers to send streamers unlimited animated hearts as a form of virtual applause -- neither of which Meerkat can do.
Others noted Periscope’s more polished interface given that it look over a year to develop -- as opposed to Meerkat, which was a side project that suddenly rose to the forefront and was created in weeks.
Another key difference is the extent to which each app relies on Twitter. While Periscope will have access to Twitter’s social graph, meaning that it automatically suggests following Periscope users one already follows on Twitter, that is where the integration ends. As with Vine, which Twitter also acquired out of beta, the goal is to build a standalone product, Periscope’s founders have said.
Meerkat, on the other hand, is actually more inextricably linked with Twitter in that all comments left on Meerkat streams simultaneously appear as ‘at replies’ on Twitter.
“They have about two-three weeks ahead of us, and I think in the grand scheme of things the better product will win,” Twitter’s vice president of product, Kevin Weil, told Buzzfeed. “We have the better product.”