What Inspired Twitter to Acquire, Deploy Periscope Live Streaming App

What Inspired Twitter to Acquire, Deploy Periscope Live Streaming App
What Is Periscope, Exactly?
Why Twitter Got Involved in Live Streaming
Meerkat Is Periscope's Closest Competitor
Multiple Platform Support Is Available
Facebook's Audience Is an Inviting Opportunity
Periscope Is Growing Rapidly
Politicians, Celebrities Line Up for Periscope
Don't Forget About Building Twitter's User Base
Audience Participation Is a Key Feature
Periscope Has Potential as a Business Tool
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What Inspired Twitter to Acquire, Deploy Periscope Live Streaming App

Periscope has become a Twitter-owned startup worth watching. Here's what Periscope is all about and why it's catching on with Twitter users.

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What Is Periscope, Exactly?

Periscope is a live streaming application developed by an independent startup that Twitter acquired in March 2015, reportedly for $100 million. The app allows mobile users to stream video instantly about what they are doing and what's going on around them from their iPhones or Android devices. Users can also retain their Periscope streams and publish them to their Twitter timelines for future viewing.

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Why Twitter Got Involved in Live Streaming

Some may wonder why a company that has made its money on 140-character micro-blog posts would decide to acquire and deploy a live streaming app. It's simple, live news of every kind, world-shaking news as well as personal news about what's going on in our lives. In fact, Twitter was the first place news of the U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan was made public. Now, with Periscope, Twitter has given users a new tool that lets them share what's happening in the world. Twitter is trying to monetize news on its own site through ads and it may try to do the same with Periscope.

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Meerkat Is Periscope's Closest Competitor

Although one could argue that video-calling applications like Skype and FaceTime are technically competitors to Periscope since they stream videos to others, its top competition is Meerkat. Like Periscope, Meerkat is in its fledgling stages and lets users stream content from mobile devices to others. Most importantly, Meerkat supports not only live streaming to Twitter, but also to Facebook. Meerkat, however, doesn't have the same number of users, and considering it's competing against a major social media company with huge coffers, it faces bigger challenges to success.

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Multiple Platform Support Is Available

At its launch in March, Periscope was only available on Apple's iOS. However, the platform now supports Android, bringing it to many more devices around the world. Meerkat was the first to provide Android support for its live streaming app, but Periscope has caught up and users of Google's platform have all the same features as iOS device owners.

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Facebook's Audience Is an Inviting Opportunity

Facebook is a Twitter competitor, which is part of the reason Periscope doesn't, at least right now, natively support streaming to that social network. Still, with more than a billion users worldwide, Facebook presents a massive audience opportunity for Periscope, and if Periscope ever has a chance of becoming a true breakout hit, Twitter may have to decide whether it should support Facebook as well.

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Periscope Is Growing Rapidly

Periscope has been growing at a rapid clip in the last five months it's been available. Twitter reported recently that it now has 10 million users, and the time audiences spend watching Periscopes each day equals 40 years. Even better for Periscope, that figure doesn't include the people who use Periscope.tv to watch video feeds. So, there's a good chance Periscope video viewing is even higher than Twitter has calculated.

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Politicians, Celebrities Line Up for Periscope

A key component in Periscope's success over the last several months has been its buy-in among politicians and celebrities. When Republication Carly Fiorina announced her presidential candidacy, for instance, she took to Periscope to answer user questions in real time. Several celebrities have also started streaming video about their travels on Periscope. Like Twitter, Periscope's initial growth may ultimately hinge on its popularity among the world's most well-known people.

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Don't Forget About Building Twitter's User Base

Although Periscope wants to drive its revenue and stand on its own as a Twitter subsidiary, the social network has another reason to make its live streaming app a huge success. Twitter's user base growth has started to stagnate, and the company's shareholders have called on the social network to find new ways to increase users. Periscope is one of those ways, since it funnels viewers through video to Twitter. Whether it's actually working, however, is unknown.

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Audience Participation Is a Key Feature

What makes Periscope so interesting and appealing is that it comes with audience participation. As a video is shown, the audience can share comments and ask questions. The idea is to increase engagement through the platform and for Periscope to surface the most popular content around the globe on its Periscope.tv site. Without audience participation and the opportunity to talk to viewers, it's hard to believe Periscope would be all that successful.

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Periscope Has Potential as a Business Tool

Periscope delivers some enterprise value. The platform includes a Private feature that lets users pick individual people who would be allowed to access their Periscope videos. If a remote employee needs help with a client issue and the person to fix it is back in the office, Periscope could be used to exchange videos so they could troubleshoot the issue. Periscope hasn't been widely adopted as a business tool yet, but it has all the tools that could make it one if Twitter decides to develop that market in the months and years ahead.

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