The Deal with Meerkat and Why Everyone Is Buzzing About It

Finally, the next big app made its way to SXSW Interactive. The successful launching pad of Twitter of years past had everyone’s appetite whetted to the next big thing. But when nothing emerged for years, there were whispers that the annual Austin tech festival’s had lost its bleeding edge.

Not this year. You’ve heard by now that the live streaming app Meerkat made a huge splash, and if you haven’t yet, here are your talking points when the conversation comes up.

First off, here’s how you explain it to your much older brother or dear mother: It’s a really simple new way to broadcast something happening live to others. You don’t need a webcam or other equipment; just a smartphone to record and a smartphone to watch.

[[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”30065″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”480″,”style”:”width: 250px; height: 441px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;”,”title”:”Meerkat on the web”,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”width”:”299″}}]]Jimmy Fallon is using it to let fans watch his monologue practice live at the NBC studios. Other celebs actively Meerkatting (it’s a word) include actor/musician Jared Leto, NBA commentator Shaquille O’Neal and weatherman Al Roker. Even the first big brand, Mastercard, joins these folks on the Meerkat leaderboard, a smart gamification-inspired ranking of user scores based on activity.

Watch a Meerkat stream and you’ll immediately see how easy it is and how good the quality is. Journalists are getting in on this quickly, like Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff who livestreamed the Apple Watch media reveal. If you’ve ever gone looking for video of the last big Apple product reveal, you’ll realize there is none. Rudimentary iPhone photos from a crowded auditorium and live tweets are all you’ll find. Ulanoff even admitted being nervous to Meerkatting at Apple HQ since these events are carefully orchestrated to keep details under wraps.

So, journalists have an easy tool to broadcast live events to the public, but does the everyday Joe really have enough “content” in real life to Meerkat? And if they can, does it mean they should? Meerkat’s CEO and founder Ben Rubin thinks so. “It sounds very cliche, but it’s something we call ‘spontaneous togetherness,'” Rubin tells Mashable.

Plenty will be written about the app in the weeks to come answering that question. In the meantime, I really want to create my first Meerkat. Anyone want to see my dog take a nap?


Journalist, podcaster and southpaw Shelby Skrhak is the former director of digital content and social media for Before joining SUCCESS magazine, Shelby launched the weekly suburban newspaper Plano Insider, and covered topics ranging from cops and courts to transportation and fashion. Her handwriting should be a font.

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