How to use Live Streaming Apps on Mobile

screen322x572The future will be live before your eyes, that’s the buzzword pundits are saying these days. But what’s your options for mobile?

For most of us, going live on mobile streaming is the ultimate dream of any narcissistic fundamentalist who wants to go beyond the cam whoring and selfie pictures. The great secret is that it can even make you money going live.

There are platforms like Twitch that pays users to stream their live game play of popular games.

So what are your options if you don’t play e-games?

USTREAM

One of the household names in Live Streaming was created for mass market broadcasting. The free streaming is ad supported and as a free user, you also have a limited number of hours/bandwidth for broadcasting. To get on the unlimited broadcasting rights without adverts, you need to sign up for the pro package which isn’t cheap. It cost between US$99 to US$2500 a month!

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Mobile users pay from 3.99 a month for streaming, which includes both live or recorded broadcast.

Users can get to watch a wide variety of streams, most of which are either puppy cams or bird cams which at best, are cures for insomnia. The nicer deeds are the Monterrey Bay Aquarium’s broadcast, where you can watch live swimming Blue Fin Tuna to whet your appetite. Beyond that, people broadcast everything from their gameplay to their front lawn for you to observe how grass grows. Not terribly exciting but some will find this amusing enough to sit for hours to watch this.

Broadcasting isn’t just limited to mobile for this platform. Ustream also works on desktop PCs. To interact with your followers, you can view the chat screen but seriously, that’s not always the best option if all you are looking at are puppies.

YouNOW

A big live streaming site for the younger generation that’s hugely popular in Europe and state side. Most of them appearing here are teens who stream from their notebook PCs but for those who have built a loyal following, mobile streaming is the way to go.

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There are no ads, no sign up fees, nada. It’s free to stream and you only have to worry about exhausting your mobile bandwidth while at it. YouNow makes money through fans, who buy virtual goods to tip their idols. You buy virtual gold bars and give them away and out of that, streamers get a cut on the money you spent.

What makes YouNow different is that every one you follow can be viewed in a archived format. That means if you can’t spend the time to watch them live from wherever you are, you can of course watch the recorded episode. The only difference is that you can’t partake in the bantering that happens live.

Some of those who have made money from YouNow includes an arab bloke that goes by the name of Mr.Cashier. He works in a convenience store in NY and streams video from his smartphone. He now earns more money from streaming on YouNow than his day job at the store!

YouNow also have a team of moderators who prowl the live feeds for anything offensive. So there is no porn stars wannabes or for that matter, extreme elements allowed. You get banned and that’s the end of that.

The ranking of famous broadcasters is done live, through the use of hashtags. If you are a guy or gal, you can see your live ranking climb to number one. To interact with your live followers, you have a chat screen where you can type in your questions while the answer live online. There is of course a 10 to 15 second delay depending on how busy that particular broadcaster is. Sometimes there could be as much as 300 people shooting questions at a time.

So far, they don’t have bird cam or puppy cams. Which is a nice departure from Ustream.

Meerkat

The love child of Twitter which was later abandoned for the sake of adopting Periscope has had tongues wagging all over the Valley. Meerkat was a garage style start up and has many loyal broadcasters…many whom are Meerkat moderators. This means they have the power to weed trolls out who basically are there to throw morally defunct questions at broadcasters.

Engagement is through a chat window but there is a caveat. Whatever you type on chat appears on your Twitter account feed. So for people who follow you, they get to know who you are talking to as well. Currently out on iOS for Android, Meerkat for iOS has both Twitter and Facebook login support. Of late, Twitter has been actively cutting Meerkat access and support, so unless Facebook picks it up. It might just fall apart.

katdibcxe1rx8pqkxgo9Meerkat is not for those who want to make money from Live Streaming, again, the model of business is very similar to that of Twitter. Fans get to follow their broadcasting idols. You get more famous, hopefully to the status of a celebrity. Many of the broadcasters are schooled on how to stream and even handle difficult moments when a troll pops up. For this, Meerkat has got a dedicated team of broadcasters even though the topics often are not all that engaging.

Users who want to broadcast live will find it hard to get eyeballs because of Meerkat’s rather poor discovery tool. Scheduling is relatively easy but not everyone who wishes to stream will be featured. There is no recorded broadcast to watch if you miss it live but there is a third party service which records up to one hour of live broadcast for you to watch later.

Periscope

Currently available on both Android & iOS, this streaming service is exclusive to Twitter. Followers will get to watch saved streams if they are not around to catch them live and every schedule or live broadcast is featured in the mobile app.

1-4YJGSEXeDu8w6mUzj-AaGwOne of the advantages of this service is that you can stream in landscape format so followers get to see more. Like Meerkat, all your comments in the chat column is Twittered.

News broadcasters seem to favor this streaming app over Meerkat. So far, many of the live streams shown are nothing short of extraordinary. You can catch the morning news as it happens and watch live testing of racing cars at the test tracks to the U2 Live concert through the eyes of the audience. Meerkat just doesn’t have the content to compete with this sort of broadcasting.

Broadcasters on Periscope are more global, as you have both middle eastern and European broadcasters. What’s more, you often get far more eyeballs on Periscope than on Meerkat.

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The End must Justify the Means

All mobile streaming apps take a heavy toll on your mobile bandwidth.  So your intended goal of using a particular app must suit the target audience. So far, the only one that you can make money from is YouNow. Cost you next to nothing to sign up but you bear the cost of streaming live. Building an audience is hard work so nothing comes without effort.

Audience wise, live streaming doesn’t quite have the sort of eyeballs to justify a daily broadcast routine. Those on Periscope and Meerkat get between 50 to 350 live followers at any one time. The only time it made a difference was during the Mayweather and Pacman Vegas fight where pay-per-view TV was streamed live by users and even then, you get only 8,000 people watching along with you. YouNow easily attracts over 100 viewers while both Periscope and Meerkat struggle to match those numbers.

Streaming live to your friends is probably the next big thing and this could happen with Facebook since socially, that would be the meeting point. However not everyone will have the time to devote to your live broadcast and for that, you just gotta to do the maths to find out if the end justifies the means.

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Showbox App Revisited

header-uiOne of the beauties of the Android environment is that you don’t have to root your phone to use apps deemed illegal by Google. Try that with Apple too and you’ll be booted out faster than greased lightning. So with that in mind, I will like to dedicate this post to all those who are fans of illegal movie downloads, who probably need a daily fix before bed time.

Showbox Hosted on a burnt Wire

Previously, I could not put a link up because, there was no link to Showbox app. But today, it is gone again. It was originally hosted on a Chinese server, showbox.me, but you can get copies of the app from various places. The Aptoid link is still live so  that is one place you must look. There are updates and I suspect that the whole deal about Showbox is that the media files are hosted on a dedicated server farm.

Each time Showbox goes online with an app download, it gets snuffed out like a burnt wire. Compared to Popcorn time, which is hosted in Europe, it has no server location since the media files are hosted by users as opposed to a centralized location for Showbox. The app has no assets whereas for Showbox, the assets are hosted on a physical server in Russia.

[update April 2015: You can download showbox Android app from here. But please ensure you have a malware protector to check the APK as the source of this app does not have an official source. Previous versions required very little permissions but this ones takes a lot more.]

What’s the Difference Between Popcorn Time and Showbox?

Plenty.Just so you know, I have made the distinction here.

Popcorn Time

Popcorn time is a torrent application. What it does is that it seeks out movie streams on torrent links and downloads them into the app. Popcorntime is available on desktops as well as mobile. But the downside of Popcorn time is very evident from the moment you hit the download to watch button. It just won’t stream instantly. It has to build up a buffer or download the entire movie first. The instant streaming fix you need is impossible. The app does not allow you download the files to your device either. For this, you need a dedicated torrent downloader.

If you see a torrent link, make sure you blast it!

If you see a torrent link, make sure you blast it!

Lastly, the movie selection is limited. You can only find the latest and most popular movies on torrent. Anything older than your dog would be a difficult find. One of the advantages of torrent files is that it can pick out a desire subtitle option.

Showbox

Instant gratification as long as you have a fast internet connection. The system protects itself from leeching by allowing only one download or streaming activity at a time. So the speed is consistent. The download option is fabulous. You can download the entire movie file in low, medium or high quality. High in this case often means up to 1020p. What I love about Showbox is its simple interface. You can have all your files downloaded to watch later.

Showbox link is live? Wow that is cool!

Showbox link is live? Wow that is cool!

The choice of movies grows by the day and yes, it even supports TV series. So if you are looking for the latest season of Anthony Bourdain’s  Parts Unknown, you will find it here. Showbox also has a distinction for having the latest movies as well as favorites from 2 decades ago. They have some older movies from the 50s and 60s as well but these titles are limited.

VK the missing Movie Streaming Link

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Vladimir Putin may have something to do with VK social network site but one thing is for sure, you can get plenty of the latest blockbusters for free as Russia does not recognize the DMCA take down. The best kept secret on the Internet is actually Vkontake or VK.com. Once you join, you can stream almost any movie known on the planet. I was asked to find a torrent on “To Kill a Mockingbird” and could not locate one until I searched on VK.com.

VK.com has a mobile app that allows you stream movies online, and yes, there is even porn if you know where to look. Thanks to this, VK has gotten a lot of flak from movie producers and studios but it is the best kept secret in town if you want to watch just about anything. What’s more, music can be streamed for free! Fuck yea! No more Spotify subscriptions to pay! Just add that into a playlist and you’re good to go.

VK.com is a social network and works in a similar way as Facebook except for the free music and movies you get to stream. There are even third party video downloaders which will rip the videos directly to your PC if you want to keep a copy. VK app is available on IOS, so for iPhone and iPad users, this is your only choice to enjoy streaming movies.

VK comes highly recommended for both Android and iOS. Not sure if is available on Blackberry or Windows Mobile but if it is, you better start using it.

Viddy To Shut Down in December

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Sad but true, Viddy is shutting down come December as they come to terms with their failure to gain traction.

So how did this happen? Apparently they walked away from a US$100 million offer from Twitter in 2013 and things turned from bad to worst when their CEO was fired because of this.

Since then, the slide in its 30 million users has decimated its popularity.

For us at least, it’s the end of another great app for both iOS and Android. I think Viddy had a lot of promise and since it has been acquired by Fullscreen, a company that in the video advert business, things might turn around.

So What Else is there for Video?

Besides Instagram and Vine, the two heavy weights of the instant video industry, you still have Vimeo and YouTube.

Vine clone, Lightt is still around too, though its similarities to Vine might not get them noticed. What makes an app unique is the UX and the social connection. If you get to break those barriers, then people will use your app in social network post.

Western tech firms don’t innovate enough. They fail to understand that being a clone of something else like Vine or for that matter Instagram isn’t going gain them much followers. There are just too many of the same thing going on.

Innovate or Die

Meipai

One of the video apps that have come out of China that would have easily thrashed the living daylights off the likes of Viddy and Lightt would be MeiPai, a video app from Xiamen Meitu Technology, an Internet Network company in China. They have broke new ground with a different model which makes the app easy to use while creating instant music videos based on templates you choose.

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It has a nice touch but unfortunately it lacks global appeal. Content is mostly from China and even though there are some from outside of it, it’s predominantly Chinese. Menu and navigation is still in Chinese but an English version might be coming soon from the looks of the screen snapshot seen here.

Monetization is via MV templates where you can buy in-app. This one touch Music Video App is very easy to use. Take a clip of 15 seconds, choose your MV template and music. Everything is  done for you. It has fewer steps in content creation than Kanvas app, another video content creation app that has some cool features but available only on iOS.

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Kanvas App recently had their music feature pulled out from under them. They have for some time been using iTunes’ own music snippets as a way for people to add music to their videos. Naturally the music owners took a swipe at them, taking this feature down along the way.

MeiPai app gets away with this as it has created a list of free and royalty free music for you to use— sort of like what Google has done with Internet Web Fonts. It may not come from a brand name source but it sure feels and looks like it.

This is one app model that I want to see duplicated and it remains to be seen if someone out there has the right eye to see this potential.

 

Nokia’s Lost Android Dream

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So it was a missed opportunity, and it is all in the news. Before Microsoft bought out Nokia, the latter had already been testing a slew of Android enabled phones with a dedicated eco-system similar to Amazon’s take on Android.

Looking back, I have to admit that I loved all the Symbian phones and two in particular were my personal faves, the Nokia 3660 and Nokia 6600. Now, we hear that Nokia might be no more, at least in Spirit, once Microsoft assumes control of the entity.

Before I got my iPhone, I had a N95—which I adored, and after that the Nokia 5800 before moving into iOS and Android. That said you could see how Nokia got it all wrong.

As much as I loved my phone, Nokia was destroyed by Elop, the CEO who abandoned all Symbian efforts and Meego initiatives for something he knows well…Windows Mobile.

What Went Wrong with Windows

When you are late to market, you sometimes have to pay to learn. And Microsoft is NOT  learning this one bit. For the record, Windows Mobile 8 & RT are significant departures from previous Windows Mobile OS systems. I once owned an O2 version of the XDA Mini. It didn’t work like a charm and faltered. Then I bought into the Samsung Omnia, a ridiculous Windows mobile OS killed it. Times were changing and Microsoft still didn’t get it right.

Windows Mobile 8 & RT with its slick Metro interface is fantastic. The concept on how it works is simple, just like iOS, the approach is flat. You can’t go wrong with something like this but Microsoft did screw it up. It was priced too close to Apple’s own iPhone. When the RT tablets came out, they priced it too close to the Apple iPads. Stupidity is indeed contagious if when you consider that Microsoft had a lot of catch up to do in the market.

The Japanese know that to command the attention of the masses you need software. And to get the people to develop software, you need to sell the hardware for cheap.

This sort of Loss Leader approach is what made the Playstation and Nintendo machines of their day the top of the heap. Remember that when the PS3 was launched, Sony sold it at a loss to encourage consumers to buy it, with that, they went into the software business with the numbers they needed to justify selling it at a loss. It worked. Nintendo did the same and corner the console market.

Dude, Where’s My Software!?

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The pathetic list of software on the Windows Mobile Marketplace is a sign of something gone wrong and here it is. Do you know it cost you US$1200 a year to sign up to be a Windows Mobile 8 Developer and have access to the MSDN support?

There is a free plan which includes the use of Visual Studio Tool Express but the developer license must be renewed monthly, at no cost. The highly restrictive free plan is limited to 5 PC  stations.  You can only list 5 free apps on the mobile appstore in one year and after that, it cost US$20 a pop for each additional free app you add to that list. MSDN is the developer network which you won’t have access to unless you pay that $1.2 grand a year.

In recent past, Microsoft charged US$99 for a windows mobile developer account but decided that it already makes enough money from the professional developers to forgo this part of the fee. Blackberry developers probably get the best deal with free membership and free listing with free tools. Blackberry also gives you the porting tools you need to make your Android app totally Blackberry compliant though I don’t see much benefit since you have Blackberry fragmentation to deal with.

Apple developers and Google Android developers have access to free software support as well as forum support without an afterthought. Google doesn’t charge you anything but a flat US$25 as an entry free to their domain. Apple’s iOS Enterprise Developer Program  maxes out at US$300 a pop. That’s a far fry from the US$1200 that Bill Gates Inc. charges. For smaller companies, you can subscribe to list any app on the Apple Appstore for US$99 a year.

Emulate Google Play Success

Sorry, Microsoft didn’t hear that. Google’s Android has garnered so much interest and success is due to one thing and that it’s devices are priced below that of iOS. The fragmentation that came along with it didn’t worry it as much as there was mass market appeal.

iOS was first to market, even though Nokia had for some time had its own store for Symbian apps, it never took off because it was in decline. Elop killed Nokia after taking it to Windows and that’s the end of the story.

The iOS success story is simple. Steve Jobs needed software for iOS and he made the tools freely available on the Mac when you sign up to be a developer. And the tools are pretty good too. When the hardware prove to be a hit, he had legions following him.

Google’s Android SDK is nothing to shout about but it works. Blackberry has the lowest point of entry for developers who want to go into Apps creation. Everything is free, to join and to list an app.

Microsoft: Penny wise and pound foolish

Microsoft thinks it needs a hardware manufacturer like Nokia to succeed in the mobile campaign. Sounds like a dream but they are thinking it might just work for them. Seven billion is small change for Microsoft. Nokia’s mobile business isn’t worth that much after the damage Elop did to the company. But Nokia held the trump card with 80 percent of the Windows Mobile Phone. No other manufacturer came close.

Even though Nokia is achieving limited success with its Lumia phones, it faces an Android onslaught. Elop could have done a deal with Google if he wasn’t reputed to be the Trojan Horse that Microsoft sent in. He could also have taken up MeeGo, a Linux based OS (which evolved to be Tizen OS). Instead, he took the backdoor route, that is move it back to Windows.

Looks like Microsoft is going to crash and burn in the mobile apps market, and they might as well take Nokia down that road with them. Sad end to a really great Brand and marks the end of Nordic entrepreneurial engineering prowess and design.