We’ve been hearing a lot about Meerkat and Periscope over the last couple of weeks, as each of the two apps has attempted to dominate the wildly popular new live-streaming space. Meerkat was the initial front runner; a darling at SXSW with a number of famous fans. But since then, Twitter’s Periscope has overtaken Meerkat with its more sophisticated functionality, and bagged a music video premiere with the queen of pop, Madonna (albeit one which arrived a day later than promised).
Periscope used this opportunity to showcase its latest offering; a pop-up button which appears at the end of a broadcast and links viewers to an external webpage. In this case it was a link to purchase Madonna’s album Rebel Heart on iTunes, immediately placing Periscope ahead of Meerkat in terms of marketing potential.
But this is far from a two-horse race. Enter Twitcasting, a Japanese streaming platform which has been around since 2010, and has over 10 million users internationally. “It was surprising that Silicon Valley journalists were talking about these two new apps without mentioning services in Asia,” Twitcasting’s Yuki Ishiwaka said in an interview with Tech in Asia. “Similar to US teens and Snapchat, Twitcasting has become a major part of the lives of a lot of Japanese users.”
While unknown in the West until now, Twitcasting’s user figures make Meerkat and Periscope’s pale in comparison. It is available in five different languages and its global community comprises pop stars and politicians in Japan, and Grammy award winners and reality TV personalities in Brazil. Ishikawa explains that Twitcasting’s popularity in regions with slow internet connections is due to its “low bandwidth” and “very low latency”, stating that “Meerkat and Periscope aren’t as fast as our app.”
With the launch of Meerkat and Periscope proving that there is a burgeoning market for streaming services in the US, Twitcasting now plans to open a company office Stateside, with the aim of securing series B funding by the end of 2015. With a vast built-in community and nifty features such as ‘collaboration mode’, not to mention leadership with five years of experience in this space under its belt, Twitcasting may soon find itself flying past Meerkat and Periscope in the App Store.