Monday, July 21, 2008

Mobile phone video streaming service Qik opens public beta

Mobile phone video broadcast site Qik, which launched in private testing this spring, has opened today as a public beta.

Qik is a live video streaming site that turns the user's mobile phone camera into something of a remote webcam. Users are encouraged to stream events and other happenings, which can be viewed live and later as video clips, to the Qik Web site.

Thanks to a committed stable of users providing unique content to the service and support from notable bloggers, Qik has rapidly gained widespread attention. It's not clear whether the company has paid or otherwise rewarded these individuals -- such as Robert Scoble, Michael Arrington and XM Radio's Robert Eklund -- for using Qik, but the service has quickly outpaced rival Flixwagon as a result.

Though it has been repeatedly inaccessible throughout the morning, Qik is now allowing anyone to sign up, even if they do not have a compatible handset. A data plan, however, is required, as users must enter their mobile number and click on the link in a text message sent from Qik.

John Culbertson talks to Congressman Kevin McCarthy in his Qik stream.

Of the more than 30 compatible devices, only four that run Windows Mobile are supported: the Motorola Q9c and Q9h, Samsung's Blackjack II and SGH-1600. The list of Symbian OS-powered devices, such as Nokia's N95, is considerably longer.

Despite showing off iPhone video capability in the beginning of June, Apple's device is not yet supported by Qik.

The Qik Site, according to founder Bhaskar Roy, is not meant to be the destination for users. Videos and feeds are rather meant to be linked to from other sites such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and others. Venturebeat notes that 57 percent of views actually come from third party sites.

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