The race between Meerkat and Periscope is closer than it seems
Both live-streaming apps offer what largely amounts to the same experience: You can quickly and easily broadcast live video of what you're doing, allowing your friends and Twitter followers to click on a broadcast and tune in.
Meerkat dominated the tech scene for the two weeks leading up to this year's South by Southwest festival, gaining over 200,000 users ranging from Jimmy Fallon to the BBC. But at the peak of Meerkat's hype, Twitter, who had recently acquired Meerkat rival Periscope, decided to cripple Meerkat temporarily by shutting off its Twitter integration - which left Meerkat users without an easy way to connect with their friends.
Meerkat responded by adding new discovery features to its app to remedy the problem, but by then Twitter had officially launched Periscope, which quickly broke into the top 10 social networking apps in the App Store and became a trending topic on Twitter.
With Twitter and most of the tech press behind it, Periscope was now in the spotlight, and with the help of its close integration with Twitter and a fresh app design, it made a compelling case to the live-streaming crown.
But after a week with both Periscope and Meerkat released to the public, the race is heating up.
From a usage standpoint, Quartz's Dan Frommer points out that the two apps are now seeing similar engagement. By analyzing Topsy's data on the number of tweets per day, Frommer highlights that Periscope is only seeing "a few thousand" more tweets every day than Meerkat - proving that Meerkat could end up prevailing when all is said and done.
The next month will be critical for Meerkat.
Not only does it need to prove that its own ecosystem is better than Periscope's - a tough thing to prove now that Periscope is essentially Twitter -- it also needs to show that it can offer the same level of features and polish. Meerkat has done a great job releasing new updates at a fast pace, but Periscope already has some unique feedback features that some would argue give it an edge over Meerkat, and some of this extra thought and polish could be our first glimpse at the benefits of working with Twitter on an app's feature set.
Meerkat is now the underdog, however, and that can be a powerful thing. Twitter's initial move to hamstring Meerkat left a bad taste in the mouth of many, and Meerkat has more than doubled its user base to over 500,000 even with Periscope being available.
The race between Meerkat and Periscope isn't over quite yet, but it likely will be in a month.
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