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Periscope Launches, Offers Stiff Competition to Meerkat

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Periscope, the live video app acquired by Twitter for around $100 million, launched yesterday to much acclaim. While rival live video app Meerkat was first to market, the Periscope experience is so superior that now Meerkat's future doesn't look as rosy.

A free download, Periscope is available for iOS only, but an Android app is in the works. Users can open the app and instantly see available live streams from around the globe. It's an addictive experience, even if the broadcaster is only streaming their drive to work. Periscope was used by several people to stream footage from yesterday's explosion and fire in Manhattan's East Village, showing its value as a live news source.

Users can see which of the people they follow on Twitter are on Periscope, then choose to follow them. Unlike Meerkat, Periscope doesn't change the user's Twitter account to follow anyone new. Also, chats in Periscope aren't automatically sent out as tweets, as they are in Meerkat. That makes viewers more willing to open up and participate in conversations.

Periscope includes a simple approval system, where viewers can tap the screen to send hearts to broadcasters they like. Broadcasters save videos and replay them, a feature Meerkat lacks. Broadcasters can line up shots before streaming, delete chats or replays, and stream privately to a select group of viewers. The only knock from users so far is that notifications are noisy, and many have reported shutting them off.

Hours before Periscope's release, Meerkat announced that it raised $14 million from investors that include Greylock Partners and Sound Ventures. One wonders if those investors had tried Periscope first.

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