The rise of instant mobile video

Being able to record video of something and then share it with lots of people – YouTube, anyone? – isn’t a new idea by any means.

It seems there are any number of video sharing services that you can sign up for and use – see this long list by Robin Good, and this one from TechCrunch last summer of five services offering live video.

What is new is the means for anyone to instantly record video of anything, anywhere and at any time – not necessarily tied to a computer – and then use that video as a starting point for ‘video conversations.’

What I’m talking about here are two relatively new services that started up recently with a focus on mobile video, one of them enabling a prototype such service only a couple of days ago.

I think these are the vanguard of what will soon come in live and near-live video from anywhere with just a mobile device.

The two new services are Qik and seesmic, both in invitation-only alpha testing (seesmic’s service is actually pre-alpha at the moment).

I’ve been trying out and playing with both companies’ offerings for a few months. Even though far from polished, they’re terrific (and great fun).

qik Qik is all about streaming live video from your mobile phone in real time.

That’s what makes it extremely compelling. Wherever you are with your phone, if you have either a cellular or a wifi connection, you can instantly broadcast your video over the net.

To all intents and purposes, it’s just like live TV. Indeed, with your phone, you’re a mobile TV station. Yet there’s one major difference – people can talk to you via text messaging as you’re broadcasting.

What you transmit is saved on the Qik website for recorded viewing. Here are videos I’ve made so far with Qik, some via a wifi connection, others via cellular.

The service currently supports only certain Nokia models; a large range, though, including the N95 8GB that I have.

seesmic Seesmic, on the other hand, is all about recording video on the seesmic website via a webcam on your computer.

It’s deeper than just that, though, as your recordings form part of a conversational ecosystem – think of an audio-visual Twitter community – where video replaces text.

In an interview founder Loic Le Meur had with the BBC last week, the service was referred to as "a vision of the future of online video."

Recording to the web was only how seesmic worked until last week when Loic Le Meur made it possible to use the service from a mobile phone via video sharing service ShoZu.

This adds a further dimension to conversational video which is now mobile.

It’s not hard to see that such mobile communication tools can have a valuable role to play from a business communication point of view.

For instance, Dennis Howlett raised some interesting points in a post yesterday on his blog (and also in the SAP Community Network) in which he suggested some roles for seesmic mobile in specific business situations.

Moreover, seesmic will be in prominent use at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, this week. Talk about high-profile exposure!

While it really isn’t hard to see how useful both live and recorded mobile video can be in a business context, it’s equally not hard to see that such easy and instant means of communicating will present many organizations with concerns about, for instance, privacy and data protection.

Some will see negatives surrounding control (lack of) and employee ‘loss of focus’ in the workplace in a similar vein to some companies’ knee-jerk reactions last summer over employee use of social networks like Facebook.

What’s important is to take a balanced view, examining all the pros and cons before coming to any conclusions, whether that’s walking or jumping to them.

Better do it sooner rather than later as technologies and behaviours are developing and changing very quickly indeed.

Much quicker than you think.

About Neville Hobson

Entrepreneurial business communicator with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Co-host of the weekly business podcast For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report. Also an occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Follow me on Twitter and Google+.