Facebook is starting to expand its Live Video feature to all users, the social networking giant announced on Thursday.
It’s a feature inside the main Facebook mobile app that lets you livestream what you’re doing to your friends and followers. You could use it to show off the view from your hotel on holiday — or just to vent about something on your mind.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the feature: It’s currently available to a select group of users. Celebrities, public figures, influencers, and so on. But in a blog post, Facebook says it’s now beginning to roll it out to everyone, starting with “a small percentage of people in the US” that use iPhones. There’s no set timeframe for the mass release, but Facebook presumably wants to iron out all the kinks before it throws open the flood gates.
If Live Video sounds familiar, well, it’s not an entirely original idea. Live-streaming apps have been around for a while — Periscope, owned by Twitter, is one of the dominant apps today. (Twitch, owned by Amazon, also does live-streaming, but it has an emphasis on gaming targets, which is a slightly different market to Live Video and Periscope.)
Periscope, like Live Videos, is a live-streaming service — although it is a standalone app, rather than included as a feature within Twitter. The company was created in 2014, and acquired by Twitter in January 2015 for a rumoured $50 million (£33 million)-plus — before the app had even launched. It was finally released to the public in March 2016.
Periscope has developed a steady following since then — with celebrity users including Jimmy Fallon and Donald Trump. But with its epic reach and presence on just about every smartphone, Facebook risks becoming the default live-streaming app for the majority of people.
And Twitter should know better than most how fickle users can be. Earlier this year, much hullabaloo was made about Meerkat, a streaming app that raised $12 million (£7.9 million) in funding in early March 2015. But after Periscope launched, Meerkat dropped off a cliff. Over the last month, more than ten times as many people have sent tweets indicating they’re live-streaming on Periscope rather than Meerkat, according to data from Topsy.
Facebook must be hoping — and Twitter must be dreading — that the same is about to happen all over again.
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