Kyte CEO Daniel Graf is taking another big step towards turning the cell phone into a video distribution platform. “This is a big day for Kyte,” he tells me, “our biggest release since we launched our beta last April.” Up till now, Kyte allowed people to create their own personal TV channels on the Web by uploading videos from their cell phones to various widgets and to Kyte.tv. Today, Kyte is adding live video streaming from both mobile phones and Webcams, which is broadcast through your personal Kyte channel and archived for later viewing. (Sign up here for the private beta. Watch out, Justin.tv and Ustream). It also raised an additional $6.1 million from Steamboat Ventures and Swedish mobile operator TeliaSonera to close out its Series B round for a total of $21.1 million.
But most importantly, Graf is zeroing in on making Kyte a platform for musicians, media companies, and mobile carriers. He sees Kyte being used more by established personalities and media companies to produce the initial content, and then being shared and distributed by the audience via the Kyte player. To that end, he just launched Kyte.com as a site for branded partners (including bloggers) to tap into the Kyte platform. All four major music labels are using Kyte to create branded players that can be widgetized and distributed all over the Web. (See ours below, which shows an interview with Graf that I filmed using his cell phone).
“It doesn’t say “Kyte” anywhere,” says Graf (except that it does, on the bottom left). “This is like a micro Website. It can be virally distributed. Fans feel really connected to it.” They can also contribute. The Kyte player has a “produce” button that lets fans upload their own videos right into the channel. Graf created the one above for TechCrunch (it is the second one ever made after 50 Cent’s). For the next few hours you can add your own video commentary using a Webcam (we will be monitoring this, so please keep it clean).
50 Cent has been testing Kyte for about three months, and already has more than four million views on his Kyte channel across 10,000 Websites. The Kyte player is front and center on his Website ThisIs50. He regularly puts up video snippets of himself and his crew shot on a cell phone. Last night, he premiered his video “The Mechanic” through the Kyte player, which fans can embed on their own pages. It is his way of keeping control of his brand online even if people grab the video and put on other sites. Kyte plans on turning on advertising inside its players in April and sharing those revenues with producers of Kyte channels.
Kyte is also giving its partners the ability to turn their Kyte player into a Facebook app in about fiveminutes. Here is 50 Cent’s and here is TechCrunch’s. It offers an API as well for partner Websites to create deeper integration with the Kyte player and service. It even has Twitter integration. Finally, Kyte is working on one-click mobile apps to mak eit even easier to upload video from your cellphone. One such app is already in private beta for Nokia Series 60 phones.