Posts for 'Kyte'

  • Quite a Week for M&A In Online/Mobile Video

    It's been quite a week for M&A in online and mobile video. On Monday, KIT Digital announced it was acquiring Kewego, KickApps and Kyte. Then today Cisco bought Inlet Technologies to flesh out their Videoscape platform and Tremor Media reportedly acquired mobile ad manager Transpera. That's a lot of activity for just one week, and points to how key players are jockeying for bigger slices of the online and mobile video market. The trend will no doubt continue.

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).

  • KIT Digital's Deals Signal "Race to Scale" is Well Underway

    This morning KIT Digital announced 3 acquisitions, of social/video platform KickApps, online video platform Kyte and French OVP Kewego. The aggregate consideration is $77.2 million, as follows, according to the press release:

    KickApps - $44.7 million, all in KIT stock (KickApps had $12 million in 2010 revenues and had raised approximately $32 million)

    Kewego - $26.7 million, including $11.7 million in cash and $15 million in KIT stock (Kewego had $10.2 million in 2010 revenues)

    Kyte - $5.7 million, including $3.1 million in cash and $2.6 million in KIT stock (Kyte had $3.7 million in 2010 revenues and had raised more than $23 million)

    This morning I talked to Kyte's COO Gannon Hall (who will relocate to KIT's Prague headquarters as EVP of Marketing) and KickApps' CEO Alex Blum (who will become COO, responsible for product, technology and client services).

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  • Kyte Brings Live Streaming and HTML5 Ads to iOS Devices

    Online video platform Kyte is announcing this morning support for live streaming to iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) along with HTML5 ads.  The updates both build on Kyte's current iOS Application Framework and SDK. The HTML5 support means ads from third party networks can be served into live streams viewed on iOS devices. Kyte has also extended its integrated social media features into live streaming as a differentiator.
    Both moves add to the growing momentum around video delivery to iOS devices, fueled of course by their massive and growing ownership base. Just last week Apple reported selling 14.1 million iPhones, 4.19 million iPads and 9.05 million iPods (though not all Touch) in its most recent fiscal fourth quarter.   

    There has been a huge amount of activity by online video platforms, ad managers/networks and live streaming providers to support iOS devices this year. There's no sign that things will slow anytime soon. As the ecosystem pieces come together - and wireless carriers roll out faster 4G networks - the implication is that ad-supported mobile video (both on-demand and live) is poised for significant growth ahead.

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  • Kyte Continues Mobile Push With New BlackBerry Features

    Online video platform Kyte is expanding its support for mobile devices, announcing this morning Kyte Mobile Producer for BlackBerry. The feature allows owners of certain BlackBerry devices to upload and distribute videos from their handsets to multiple destinations. Supported models include the Bold, Curve 8900 and Storm. The Torch, the latest BlackBerry introduced, which is positioned to compete with the iPhone and Android devices, is not yet supported.

    Kyte has previously introduced a similar mobile video feature for both the iPhone and Nokia S60. With the iPhone version, Kyte says that customers like Fox News have incorporated on-the-spot video captures from its field reporters. The "LIVEShots" feature allows for more informal video news coverage.

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  • Kyte is Bullish on Android; Releases New SDK and App Framework

    Further expanding its mobile offering, Kyte announced this morning both an SDK and an "App Framework" for the Android OS. The SDK eliminates a lot of the complexity for developers to do custom implementations of Kyte-powered video and interactivity for their Android apps. The "App Framework" provides a template with pre-built modules (e.g. video playback, UGC video integration, commenting and chat, location-based events, Twitter and RSS readers) so new Android apps can be quickly built and released.

    Kyte's COO Gannon Hall told me yesterday that both are comparable to the previously-released iPhone and BlackBerry SDK and Mobile App Frameworks. Examples of how the templatized iPhone App Framework have recently been used include UMG's Lady Gaga app and MTV's "Hope for Haiti" digital telethon app, which Gannon said was built in record time.

    Gannon said the Android moves are further validation of Kyte's positioning as a "360 degree solution," helping companies easily deliver video to consumers everywhere they want. He sees continued fragmentation across operating systems, devices and formats as some of the tectonic "Apple/Google/Adobe/fill-in-the-blank" battles sort themselves out.

    Gannon explained that even as Kyte has been expanding its social and set-top box functionality recently, it has seen the most growth in mobile. He's particularly bullish on Android, calling out last week's NPD research that Android was the #2 selling smartphone OS in Q1 '10, behind BlackBerry, but ahead of the iPhone. He also compared Android in certain ways to Windows, much like Will has as well, but added that because Android is open source, it allows developers to enhance and improve it - a big distinction from Windows. Note - the buzz around Android and video will grow much louder later today as Google and partners Intel and Sony announce their "SmartTV" initiative, built on the Android platform.

    Regardless of the underlying technology, consumers just want video wherever they are. That's why, as these technologies segment and codecs continue to compete for dominance, OVPs that offer solutions to help content creators navigate through the myriad of technologies and cost-effectively deliver robust apps will have the competitive advantage.

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  • LiveU: High-Quality Live Broadcasting Gets Portable and Cheap

    Among the more interesting conversations I had over the last few days at the NAB Show was with Avichai Cohen, COO and co-founder of LiveU, whose lightweight mobile video uplink solution opens up all kinds of new opportunities for remote broadcasting while also saving customers lots of money. LiveU has been on my radar for some time, but this was the first opportunity I've had to see its LU-30 device. I wasn't the only one interested; their booth was buzzing with activity.

    The LU-30 incorporates 6 wireless aircards from multiple cellular service providers which are bonded together to provide a high-quality on-demand video uplink. The device fits into a LiveU-provided backpack so the user is able to simply plug in their video camera and begin broadcasting remotely. Avichai explained that the company's patents focus on the bonding, load balancing and smooth delivery under highly variable circumstances. The device also takes in Ethernet and other connections if a customer wants alternative uplinks vs. wireless. The LU-30 interfaces with the LU-100 server in the studio where the video is processed for delivery to viewers.

    Beyond the technology, LiveU also distinguishes itself with a simple monthly fee model of $1,500/mo for 30 hours of use, which Avichai said no customer has yet exceeded. That's a huge savings over renting a satellite or mobile uplink for $5,000/day. Even if the user is in an area where roaming charges apply, LiveU absorbs those costs so the flat monthly fee remains intact.

    News and sports are the most logical applications for LiveU and Avichai said the company has added both domestic and international broadcast customers. The proliferation of live streaming events, and the trend toward multiple video captures to enhance social media and smartphone consumption, is another natural opportunity. To help penetrate the market, LiveU has partnered with companies like Livestream, Ustream and Kyte, who are in turn offering remote broadcasting as a service to their customers.

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  • Kyte Launches Console 2.0, Emphasis on Ease-of-Use

    More online video platform product news today, as Kyte is unveiling its Console 2.0 product. Last week, COO Gannon Hall gave me a rundown of the new features, which include enhanced work flows, playlist creation, channel and player management and show scheduling among others.

    It's no news that OVPs are in an intense feature war, and it is increasingly important for each player to find points of differentiation. Three things that Kyte has focused on to separate itself from the pack are support for user generated content, mobile devices and social/video sharing. Gannon sees the UGC functionality as particularly important as Kyte is seeing customer demand growing for user engagement opportunities. Two customer examples he cited were ESPN's "Talk of the Terrace" live studio show in the U.K., which actively solicits user contributions (pictures, video and text), and McGraw-Hill's "Professor for a Day" initiative, which encourages students to upload a short video of themselves delivering a lecture on a subject of their choosing.

    In these and other UGC examples, it's critical to be able to quickly moderate submissions and approve them for publishing. In the case of ESPN, Gannon noted that they had a multi-step approval process through compliance and copyright officers, which Kyte enabled. The proliferation of video capturing devices like smartphones and personal video cameras, plus the intense desire by brands to engage their audience, suggests that UGC support will become a more important OVP feature. As far as I'm aware, the only other OVP that has really emphasized UGC moderation is VMIX, a situation that is likely to change.

    Mobile is another area where Kyte is trying to differentiate itself. Though its app frameworks for iPhone and Blackberry, and soon Nokia and Android, customers are able to quickly build apps for these mobile devices and then, using Kyte's Mobile Producer feature, can manage and publish video to their channels. Gannon said that for example, Fox News now routinely has field reporters capturing video with iPhones and then uploading it for audience viewing. Kyte was also involved in quickly turning around an iPhone app for last Friday's "Hope for Haiti" digital telethon.

    I continue to believe that the world is getting more and more complicated for content producers. That's a theme that I've heard repeatedly at the NATPE conference in Las Vegas, where I am now. In the old days content people focused on producing great content, and then others worried about distribution and audience development. What's changing in the digital era is that content producers need to be just as focused on distribution in order to generate an ROI. In this respect OVPs are playing a more important role, providing the work flow, distribution and engagement functionality. Making all of this ever easier and more effective will continue to be a primary success factor for OVPs.

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).

  • Mobile Video Continues to Gain Traction

    I continue to be impressed with how the mobile video market is gaining traction. It seems like rarely a day goes by now where there isn't an announcement by a technology vendor, content provider or service provider related to mobile video. Though it's still well behind online video's adoption, all of the pieces continue to fall into place for mobile video's continued growth.

    From a consumer usage standpoint, the iPhone has of course been the key driver. Whenever I'm with an iPhone owner, I'm struck by how deeply they've integrated video into their mobile experience. It's not just that they've downloaded TV shows and movies to watch on planes and so forth, but rather how natural it is for them to start playing a video and then pass their phone around so others can watch also. The iPhone has turbocharged the whole concept of shared, out-of-home video experiences.

    And though the iPhone's 30 million estimated units sold represents a huge footprint of new mobile video users (in turn generating a large ecosystem of app developers), from a device standpoint, new entrants are poised to grow the market even further. Devices powered by the Android mobile operating system are continuing to come to market, with the most recent, high-profile example being Motorola's Droid, offered by Verizon Wireless. Verizon is putting a huge marketing push behind the Droid, contributing to a growing sense of awareness by consumers of the appeal of smartphones and their video capabilities in particular. Not surprisingly given its Google parentage, YouTube has also weighed in on the benefits of Android in allowing easier uploading at higher video quality.

    In addition the iPhone and Android, among business users, Blackberry continues to dominate and internationally, Nokia has the largest smartphone position. This all suggests there will be vigorous competition among these 4 platforms, leading to lots consumer-facing promotion and rapid innovation. In a recent AdAge piece, IDC estimated that 6% of U.S. cell phone users, or 18 million people, will watch video on their cell phones this year, rising to 27 million in 2013.

    Content providers have taken notice of these dynamics and have been aggressively creating video-rich mobile apps, initially for the iPhone, but now also for Android, Nokia and Blackberry smartphones. In a recent conversation I had with Ujjal Kohli, CEO of Rhythm NewMedia, which specializes in "mobilizing and monetizing" broadcast and cable networks' TV shows, he explained how clients continue to bulk up their teams devoted solely to mobile video initiatives. An example of this is Warner Bros, which is among a number of film studios now pursuing mobile initiatives. In addition to building mobile video apps, Rhythm is also creating a mobile video ad network, like Transpera (which I last covered here). As mobile video usage surges, advertising will grow right alongside it. Mobile advertising in general received major validation earlier this week as Google acquired mobile video ad display network AdMob for $750 million.

    With all this mobile video activity, technology providers are increasingly their attention to serving their content customers. Just yesterday, Kyte, a video platform company that focused early on mobile, announced that it has launched "application frameworks" for Android and Nokia, following on previous frameworks for iPhone and Blackberry. As Gannon Hall, Kyte's COO told me, its content customers have pushed Kyte for other platforms. Now with native support for all four platforms, Kyte's customers can quickly and cost-effectively adapt existing apps, incorporating full social and monetization functions. While Gannon believes Kyte has taken the lead among OVPs in offering mobile capabilities beyond just APIs, he envisions others ramping up as well. Some evidence of this is today's partnership announcement by VMIX and Qik, to integrate mobile live streaming into VMIX's platform. More will surely follow.

    There are plenty of other examples of how the ecosystem supporting mobile video is being built out, such as Clearwire announcing this week $1.5 billion in additional capital raised for its 4G WiMax network, Verizon leading a group of venture investors in a $1.3 billion "LTE" 4G opportunity fund, Adobe releasing Flash Player 10.1 targeted for mobile devices, AT&T accelerating deployment of "HSPA 7.2" technology in 6 cities to boost 3G speeds and Akamai launching its "Akamai HD" network, which among other things supports HD video streaming to the iPhone. These and many other examples form the foundation for ever more robust mobile video experiences in the future.

    One of my predictions for 2009 was that after many fits and starts, mobile video finally seemed poised to take off. Nearly 11 months into the year, I think we're seeing ample evidence of this happening. I expect only continued growth going forward.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

  • Live Streaming Video is Finding Its Groove

    Have you noticed that live streaming video is getting more and more popular? Lately, sports in particular have been leading the charge, with live streams of PGA golf, US Open tennis, NFL football, Major League Baseball games and British soccer, among others. But sports are hardly the only area where live video streaming is taking off.

    Hang out for a few minutes at LiveStream, Ustream, Stickam and, to name a few, and you'll see all manner of live news, talk and business shows, some of which are actually quite good. Of course, you'll also find plenty of the mundane/ridiculous, like webcams pointed mutely at someone's backyard laundry or at London's Tower Bridge. Live streaming is definitely a corner of the market where video has been democratized!

    Two key catalysts for this part of the live streaming market have been mobile access (with the iPhone and other smartphones' video capture and playback driving the market) and social media/video sharing (with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others providing instant outlets). A lot of this activity is Flash-based. As both mobile and social trends gain ground, we can expect even more activity in this segment.

    Aside from sports, live streaming is also gaining traction for high-profile events, with some companies moving to support this end of the market. For example, today Kyte, which positions itself as a full mobile and online video platform, is introducing "Kyte Live Pro," an add-on that allows HD live streaming from multiple sources and encoding using Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder.

    I chatted with Gannon Hall, Kyte's COO yesterday, who explained that while "authentic" content - mainly short live clips - remain popular, Kyte's customers have also been asking for the ability to live stream longer-form events in HD. For example, TV Guide is using Kyte Live Pro this Sunday night to stream the Emmys red carpet pre-show online. Gannon expects other video platform companies, recognizing the opportunity, will start to offer live HD streaming as well. Swarmcast is one company I'm aware of that has made a name for itself broadcasting high-profile live events over the years. Microsoft is also putting a big push behind live, with its Smooth Streaming product.

    Moving even further up-market, there's also a huge amount of live video streaming happening among enterprises, educational institutions and government agencies. These entities have much tighter requirements, often needing an on-premise, behind-the-firewall configuration for capture, broadcast and viewing, multi-location secure distribution, transcoding into various formats, integration with other network and other IT components, and mission-critical reliability.

    The leader in this part of the market is a company called VBrick (according to research compiled by Frost & Sullivan), whose executives I've spoken to a couple of times recently. VBrick has over 6,000 customers in 56 countries, including 50 Fortune 500 companies, 100 Federal agencies and 900 schools, among others. The range of VBrick uses includes executive broadcasts, training and education, digital signage and surveillance and monitoring, to name a few.

    VBrick deploys a hardware appliance that does video capture and transcoding into multiple formats, high-quality distribution over varied networks (LAN, WAN, Internet) and secure viewing at desktops or conference rooms. VBrick also offers "VBoss," which is a SaaS alternative for less frequent/more budget-minded users.

    To date, most online video has been consumed on-demand. But this appears to be changing fast. With nearly infinite use cases and technology providers addressing all potential market segments, live video streaming appears poised for lots of growth ahead.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

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