In battle for live stream, Twitter plays unfairly with Israeli app Meerkat

Israeli app Meerkat allows users to live stream video via Twitter, but internet giant has begun to block small Israeli app in bid to make way for its own tech that’s being developed.

By Sagi Cohen

 

David versus Goliath – the online version: The Internet has witnessed a real “battle” for the title of the best live streaming app in recent weeks. In the one corner, Meerkat, the small Israeli app that emerged from nowhere and grabbed the headlines of late; and in the other corner, Twitter, the giant that is trying to block Meerkat and has come up with a live streaming app of its own.

Meerkat

Launched in March, the Meerkat iPhone app was developed by Israeli tech firm Life on Air, co-founded by CEO Ben Rubin, 27, VP Product Uri Haramati, 35, and CTO Itai Danino, 29. The app allows Twitter users to stream video of themselves or their surroundings to their followers with just the touch of a button.

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Meerkat soon created a huge media buzz, especially after the trend was adopted by various celebrities. Madonna, for example, premiered her new clip via Meerkat; Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon streamed live video from the studio to his Twitter followers; and other stars such as Jared Leto, Ashton Kutcher and Arnold Schwarzenegger also started using the app.

But the party ended very quickly: It has been clear for some weeks now that Twitter hasn’t been all that pleased about Meerkat’s rise to fame. Twitter recently spent $100 million to purchase a rival app called Periscope, which also allows its users to stream live video to their followers. Twitter also decided unilaterally to block some of Meerkat’s functions.

Photo: Shutterstock

Now, according to the TechCrunch website, Twitter has approached celebrities and media outlets in an effort to convince them that Meerkat won’t be around for long and that they should use Periscope instead. Twitter went even further and hinted to the media outlets that it won’t allow them access to other Twitter products if they don’t switch from Meerkat to Periscope. “Twitter is completely obsessed with Meerkat,” said one industry source on TechCrunch. “They talk about it constantly.”

The battle is expected to rage on for now, yet many in the industry believe that the trend of live streaming in general won’t last very long at all. At present, it has yet to grab the attention of the public at large, with just a handful of technology and Twitter enthusiasts hooked on the idea.

 

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