Vuclip, a mobile video search service that has been operating under the radar for a year as Blueapple.mobi, has a very cool technology. In 20 seconds or less, Vuclip can take video encoded in any format and convert it on the fly, so that it can play on a very wide range of phones. Today, the company is launching with a new name, new sites and a service that lets video content companies make their videos available on the mobile web.
While there are a number of mobile video search options, including Veveo’s vTap and AOL’s Truveo, they all share a common weakness: In order to make videos play on specific phones, they have to pre-encode them in the right formats. Because of the myriad range of carriers, varying connection speeds, and media players, this makes widespread compatibility an obstacle. (YouTube, for example, had to re-encode its vast collection in h.264 to get it to work with the iPhone.)
Vuclip’s technology, on the other hand, has no need to pre-encode. When you select a video, it analyzes the characteristics of your phone — everything from your carrier and the ideal transmission speed for your connection to the size of the screen — and adjusts the video for optimal playback. This ability gives it access to a potentially wider range of videos, and significantly reduces its data storage costs.
It also enables Vuclip to make it fast and cheap for video content sites to offer their content on the mobile web, and the company is releasing an application programming interface (API) to do just that.
These benefits aside, I found vTap’s search experience, which we wrote about last year, to be faster and more intuitive than Vuclip. When you search on vTap, for example, it starts pulling up results with every letter you type. A search for “Heroes” on both services produced more relevant results on vTap, even though all of them were from YouTube (Vuclip pulls from Metacafe and DailyMotion, as well).
Vuclip, which has users from around the world — many of them in India and China — claims to have grown from 1 million to 90 million page views over the last 8 months, almost entirely on the back of user-generated content. Since then, it has managed to rope in some second-tier branded content from the likes of CBS. Its index includes over 150 million videos from over 30 different video sites.
The company raised $8 million from NEA and Index Ventures earlier this year.