Goliath Stumbles: Twitter’s Periscope Neck-and-Neck with Live-Streaming Competitor Meerkat

Ole Spata/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Ole Spata/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

The battle for the next great social network service has become a neck-and-neck race. The hot new trend–as of this month –is live social video streaming, where users interact in real-time with their favorite Twitter friends, as they record events and conversation. One of the two contenders, Periscope, had the massive promotional power of Twitter itself, but after a brief rise to dominance, has fallen into tight competition with the scrappy startup, Meerkat.

From Republican senators live-streaming policy announcements to tech founders engaged in real-time conversations with their fans, social live-streaming exploded into the mainstream in just the last few weeks.

The mobile app, Meerkat, brought the entire trend into popularity, after it spread like wildfire among a few of Silicon Valley’s most-followed early adopters. It grew steadily from complete non-existence in March 1st to over 30 thousand tweets a day three weeks later.

Twitter had its own plans for a similar service with the purchase of Periscope. So, infamously, Twitter knee-capped Meerkat, cutting the app off from being able to automatically import a user’s social network followers.

A little inconvenience inertia can spell death to a new app, and, indeed, Meerkat’s growth came to a screeching halt (blue line above). By the time Periscope launched, it looked like the race was over (orange).

But it appears Twitter’s shiny new toy has lost its luster, and the two apps are now neck-and-neck.

If the trend holds, Meerkat and Periscope’s traffic parity is a fine testament to the meritocracy of the web. Twitter, as one of the most powerful tech companies on earth, is not having an easy time overcoming the competition; powerful backers alone are evidently insufficient to win the social network game.

In the end, this is good for Twitter, its consumers, and competitors; let the best app and most rabid fans determine the winner.

*The Ferenstein Wire is a syndicated news service. Publishing partners may edit posts. For questions, email the editor at greg at greg ferenstein dot com.