Meerkat Takes Over SXSW as Twitter Acquires Periscope for Streaming Video

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Meerkat—this year’s breakout app at SXSW—lets users livestream whatever they happen to be doing.

The “app du jour,” as Variety calls it, automatically finds and links with a user’s Twitter followers who are also using the app, resulting in instant followers and fans.

Viewers can’t replay or save the videos, “giving it a similar ephemeral vibe as Snapchat’s disappearing photos,” reports Bloomberg. “The app’s icon even resembles Snapchat, with an image of the cute African carnivore instead of a smiling ghost.”

“The gamified, viral nature of the tool, combined with the ease-of use, makes this a marketer’s dream,” says BusinessWire in a blog post. “And just in time for SXSW.”[more]

“What helps brands is the fact they don’t need to cultivate their own identity on the platform, it just allows them to live stream from their Twitter account,” says Meerkat CEO Ben Rubin. “It makes it easy for the people making those marketing decisions to jump quickly into the platform because they don’t have to worry about a whole new profile to maintain and cultivate.”

The point-and-shoot app’s potential for marketers is huge. “Expect to see marketers use it to livestream media- and consumer-focused events and interviews, showcase product use, create meet-and-greets with executives, interviews and even provide real-time behind the scene sneak peeks,” added Business Wire.

Watch for Rubin (interviewed by Re/code’s Peter Kafka, above) in a bright yellow t-shirt at SXSW Interactive in Austin, where less than two weeks post-launch, Starbucks, Perrier, Spotify, Everlane, Buzzfeed, TechCrunch and Bonobos’s AYR brand are already using the app.

“Meerkat makes that immediacy feel even more real. There’s nothing quite like knowing what you’re watching is happening—possibly across the other side of the country, or world—unedited before your eyes,” said David McGillivray, Design and Creative Lead for AYR. “Anything could happen.”

Showing how hot the space is, Twitter just acquired its own video streaming app in Periscope, but Rubin says it’s not a threat and his app’s relationship with Twitter is strong.

As for Twitter, it was the break-out hit at SXSW eight years ago—a distinction some call an “albatross,” but Meerkat might very well be the stepping stone for this year’s break-out app.

Update: Reports tonight indicate that Twitter has cut off Meerkat’s access to Twitter’s social graph. CEO Rubin’s response above:

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