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Forget the TV crew. Broadcast journalists may turn to their Android devices and iPhones to file reports on the spot.
Swedish mobile video startup Bambuser just signed a deal with Dutch mobile news agency ProSkope to let journalists stream live footage directly into their main control room. The deal is the latest in a string of partnerships the Swedish company has signed that are gradually outlining the future of mobile live video. Bambuser’s technology is already used by emergency responders to securely record accident and crime scenes and ask for advice from headquarters. They also signed a partnership with Finnish broadcaster YLE last year as an experiment; YLE’s journalists also used Bambuser’s technology to file news reports. (A video is embedded below.)
There are around a half-dozen companies trying to close in on the live mobile video space, including Ustream, Qik and Knocking.
Bambuser is the fun, if slightly eccentric, entrant from Sweden. The founder, Mans Adler, studied entrepreneurship with a Danish group called the Kaos Pilots, and went on to live in Silicon Valley and soak up ideas before returning to Sweden, where he created a “Big Brother”-style online show.
In the show, a group of people lived in a house and continuously recorded their lives with mobile phones for 48 hours. It became a viral phenomenon. And out of the publicity came the company, Bambuser, which is Swedish slang for a lousy sailor who can only handle the easiest tasks. Eventually, they started releasing live-streaming apps, once Apple signaled that it would finally allow them last fall.
By the time Steve Jobs started allowing the first live video apps into the store, Bambuser actually had one ready to go. One of their developers had already built it because he wanted a way for his girlfriend to remotely advise him on what to wear every morning. Their app works on multiple models of iPhones from the video-enabled 3GS to older versions because it uses a hack that takes around two dozen screenshots a second when the phone’s viewfinder is turned on. The company also offers Symbian, Windows Mobile and Android versions of the app.
The killer use cases for mobile live video have yet to be fully realized. We’ve experimented with it through Ustream with varying degrees of success. My VentureBeat colleague Anthony Ha took Ustream’s mobile video pack with him to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year and used it to interview companies in the convention center. While we did attract several hundred viewers, sometimes there were gaps in coverage as he walked around to find interesting people to interview. We realized that to make it work, there’s a lot of preparation involved, and you need to have interviewees lined up and ready to go. It’s definitely a learning process on both sides, for publishers and for technology companies.
Also, as speed improves with faster 4G networks, we might finally start to see the real pay-off.