Summits Yellow

Meerkat is Live-streaming's First Fatality

Tim Maytom

meerkat dead
Live-streaming app Meerkat has been been pulled from the Google Play store as the company behind the app, Life On Air, focuses on a new group video chat project called Houseparty.

Meerkat was in many ways the pioneer of the recent live-streaming boom, introducing many notable figures to the technology when the app went viral at the influential South By Southwest tech and music conference in early 2015.

However, the app, which relied upon Twitter APIs to promote live-streams, was quickly undercut when competitor Periscope was purchased by Twitter for $100m (£77m). Once Periscope streaming within Twitter's app was enabled, the writing was already on the wall for Meerkat.

While Life On Air may have shut down Meerkat's website and Twitter account and withdrawn the app from circulation, it's not really fair to call Meerkat a failure.

The app, which was reportedly only ever a side-project for the company, kick-started the live-streaming boom that has led to firms including Facebook and Amazon moving into the live-stream market.

What's more, Life On Air had been planning an end for Meerkat within six months of its launch, when Twitter's acquisition of Periscope had already signalled that the startup would be boxed out of the space by larger competitors.

"We don't see the category of live media breaking out as we envisioned it last summer," said Ben Rubin, CEO and co-founder of Life On Air in an interview with The Verge. "Everybody felt like this is going to be the next big thing. And we did scratch the surface. But what we ended up with is that live is a great feature on top of an existing network.

"It's not quite yet in a place where it can justify a whole new medium and a whole new set of behaviours where everyone is doing it on a daily basis."

Houseparty, the company's new app, was launched with little fanfare late last year, largely because it wasn't initially revealed that Life On Air were behind the service. The app enables users to quickly join group video calls based on who else is online, and has quietly amassed 1m users.