Kenneth Friedman

A mobile live-streaming app called Meerkat just made a big splash in the tech section of the twitter-verse. Meerkat uses Twitter for sign-in and sharing. That's great for spreading quickly and terrible when Twitter cuts them out of the loop. Twitter is actively trying to suppress Meerkat. Twitter also just bought it’s own live streaming app, Periscope. But that's inside baseball, let's look at the bigger picture.

Live video apps have been around for a while now. However, none of them have nailed the social aspect of live video. All of them have focused on "one-to-one" communication, where two people talk privately to each other. No one has brought the "one-to-many" style video to the mainstream.

Almost every social network has both a broadcasting (one-to-many) and a personal (one-to-one) aspect. Facebook has the profiles/walls (broadcasting) and private messaging (one-to-one). On Snapchat, you can add a photo to your story (broadcasting) or send an individual snap (one-to-one). Twitter has a stream, and DMs (direct messages). You get the point.

The missing medium, however, is live video. There will, very soon, be a social network where you can both video-chat (one-to-one) and video broadcast. Mobile data is becoming cheaper, more reliable, and more available all the time. Smartphone cameras (especially the iPhone) are becoming incredible.

Very soon, I think there will be a wildly used service to broadcast news, interesting events, concerts, and more. Reliably. Reliability is key. You'll be able to take out your phone, and show the world exactly what is happening in front of you. And you'll be able to see what's going on, in real time, all over the place. I think it will take about 18 months. It will be mobile-first (mobile-only? wearables? Not sure). It will be used by professionals. It will be used by amateurs.

You will never have to miss an event because you’re in the wrong geographic location. You won’t be limited by where you are. Another step towards empowering individuals with technology.

Update, April 6, 2016: It has been 1 year and 3 weeks since writing this post. Today, Facebook launched Facebook Live. It is similar to Meerkat and Periscope in that is it a one-to-many broadcasting. However, it gives you fine grained control over who has access to your broadcast. We'll see how much traction this gets. If it takes about 6 months, my prediction will have been right on the money.