Phreadz: A Seesmic clone? Or a lot more?

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Phreadz is a new UK-based social multimedia conversation network of video, audio and photo blogging created via the desktop or from mobile devices. Currently in closed, invite-only Alpha (or “alfalfa” as the site prefers to call it) Phreadz is similar to Seesmic, the video conversations platform, but with Phreadz you can also automatically cross-post the multimedia to your blogs (Blogger, WP, TypePad, Livejournal) as well as images to a Flickr account, videos to a blip.tv account (and potentially a remote ftp location). It also works on mobile, posting videos with Flash Lite. Phreadz was built in entirety by “Kosso”, a British developer/entrepreneur.

At it’s simplest you just record a video post using a webcam and your web browser, then view replies from the community and keep track of the conversations by viewing the replies in a threaded / forum view or as simple lists. Phreadz has a main ‘lobby’ area (‘the public timeline’) and also special ‘channels’ dedicated to a particular topic subject or ‘show’.

You can bookmark any post or reply to let you jump back into the conversation in your own time. Replies can be subscribed to via RSS. It will also automatically encode recorded Flash to MPEG4 (and other formats) or MP3 for iTunes/podcasts. This is likely to be a ‘pro’ feature when Phreadz comes out of Alpha.

You can also send it photos, audio or video via email from you mobile phone (Nokia N95 or iPhone); send a link to your post via Twitter; receive notification of replies to your posts via email or Twitter Direct Message. And there are several other features and an API is in the works.

The key idea behind Phreadz is the ‘threaded view’ of content, be it video, images, text, audio or links and the desktop or mobile publishing and sharing.

Conversations are available as ‘channels’ for specific topics, brands or shows (in which a deal would be made with the brand for full customisation and delivery/hosting). A demo page has done this with the Indiana Jones movie launch – which, funnily enough – Seesmic participated in recently…

Soon to come is a private messaging feature for users who ‘follow’ eachother as well as private channels which could be a set up buy companies specifically for market research: for example, if a company wanted to interview customers and watch their reactions to questions about a product or service.

Kosso says Phreadz originated from an idea he had some time ago to deliver multimedia from the desktop or a mobile, and more recently as a way to communicate with his fiancee in Australia while he was in London. As an ex-BBC Online guy, Kosso previously built ‘moblogging’ system for the BBC News site’s coverage of CeBit in 2004. More recently he has worked for Podcast.com.

How is it funded? It’s one of the more originally-backed startups I’ve heard of. Kosso is bootstrapping Phreadz with the proceeds from a blogging system he built for users of the Second Life virtual world.

I personally like the interface to Phreadz a little more than Seesmic and there are more pointers to navigate the system. The channels aspect also makes the site more potentially interesting as a platform for media companies. Is it a Seesmic clone? Maybe, but it also appears to offer a lot more features than Seesmic right now. But until it comes out of closed Alpha its hard to know what reaction it will get.

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