Robert Scoble created quite the social media stir last weekend with his TechCrunch guest article on why he thinks Kyte will win the cell phone video race over Qik and Flixwagon. But is there really a race?
While it's true that the users ultimately dictate the market leaders, two of the companies claim to be focused on separate markets. Kyte CEO Daniel Graf told me on Saturday that his company's primary target market is media and entertainment outlets and enterprises through branded distribution channels – plus they aren’t focused solely on cell phones. And in a written interview yesterday, Qik co-founder Bhaskar Roy emphasized that Qik's focus remains on the individual mobile phone user.
"Qik remains concentrated on live video from cell phones and is enabling more users to communicate with their friends, family and the world rather than focusing on the distribution of videos," Roy said.
Regardless of the business focus of each company, there is a bit of a feature delta. While both companies tout iPhone capabilities, Qik’s iPhone application only works on a jailbroken iPhone. Qik allows users to embed a live channel on their blogs, social networks or live networks such as Justin.tv.
But It’s a multiple-click model, feeding video to Qik but also requiring that the user manually embed the video stream into other sites. [Update 6/17/2008 1:47 p.m.: Manual embedding is only one option with Qik; users can set up automatic updates as well] With Kyte, users set up a Kyte channel on a blog, Web site or social network of choice, and the video either uploads to or live streams direct from this channel from a mobile phone or even a Webcam.
"Kyte is not a destination, it's a distribution channel. The user chooses his or her own destination," Graf said. "It's the complete package of Kyte that makes the difference."
The simplicity of which might be why Kyte’s advertising model has been seemingly so successful since its South by Southwest launch. Kyte supports sponsored ad serving, including pre-roll video and post-roll display ads. Each player can be branded and can run any flash application as part of an advertising display.
“This turns the entire player into a microsite,” Graf said.
Both companies have seen good traction with businesses and organizations: Kyte boasts users such as rap artist 50 Cent, which has re-branded his Kyte player, and enterprises Oracle and SAP, both of which use Kyte for company conference streaming and internal communications; Qik is being used by Variety and the World Economic Forum. But Qik has no current plans to pursue a monetization model.
"At the moment, we are focused on building the product and growing the user base," Roy said. "There are more than a billion camera-enabled cell phones in the world -- that's a huge market opportunity. And we have users from 55 countries using Qik."
To further enhance its advertising model, Graf says that Kyte is working on some soon-to-be-announced ad sale integration features, such as double-click, and a Kyte analytics dashboard for tracking monetization.
Despite all the technology and advertising hubbub, Qik may have the user loyalty advantage on its side. Scoble himself, a long-time Qik user, said on Saturday via Twitter that "...I haven't decided whether to go with Qik or Kyte yet. It's hard to change services even if another is better."