A chat with Qik about Windows Mobile, giving birth, and the future

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Tomorrow Qik, the popular webcasting service that streams video from your phone, will announce support for Microsoft’s Windows Mobile platform. Actual support for phones will be rolled out in the coming months.

I had the chance to sit down and chat with Bhaskar Roy, Co-Founder and VP Product Management of Qik, and Jackie Danicki, Director of Product Marketing. The transcript of the phone call follows:

Greg: So – What’s new with Qik?

Bhaskar: Tomorrow morning, we are going to announce support for Windows Mobile as an additional platform. So far, Qik has been on the Symbian S60 platform, and people have been streaming live video from these Nokia S60 phones. In tomorrow’s announcement, we’ll be announcing support for the Samsung Blackjack, and the Motorola Q as the primary devices for Windows Mobile.

With that, we’ll also be announcing a partnership with Microsoft, who we have been working with closely in the releases for these devices and making sure we are optimized for Windows Mobile overall. Microsoft will also be helping us push this through various events, starting at Tech-Ed next week. They have something called “Mobile Smackdown”, which will be one of the Tech-Ed events. There will be close to a thousand attendees for that particular session, and Microsoft folks will be demonstrating Qik.

Greg: It seems like the idea of streaming live would be foreign to some, with a lot of people being used to editing things down before they post them online. How have people been embracing Qik?

Bhaskar: We are actually seeing very good pickup overall, where people are using Qik to do a number of things from citizen journalism, to lifestyle applications, to healthcare, and just sharing things with friends and family. Live adds an element which recorded and edited video can not do, which is impromptu. Whatever I’m doing right now, people can see it, and people can appreciate that.

The best part is that when I’m streaming live I can actually interact with my audience. Whoever is watching that video can chat with me, and that chat shows up on my phone. It creates an engaged interaction with me and my viewers, something that you just can not get with an edited or an on-demand type of video… After you’re done, the stream is automatically archived, and you can download it, edit it, and repost it somewhere else. We’re not taking that capability away from users, but we’re providing the capability to stream it live. If you want to edit it, you’ll have the tools to do that as well.

Greg: For standard day to day feeds — like someone just showing off their kid walking – how is the viewership on stuff like that compared to huge events?

Bhaskar: There are obviously some events that occur and the viewership for those are huge, but if you look at the number of videos that are posted on a daily basis those event-specific videos make up a very small percentage of the total videos. The majority of the time what people are using it as is a communications tool with their friends and family. Even though they may only have one or two views, the overall views for all of these are much higher than the event-specific videos.

Jackie: It’s a bit like a blog. Many of the blogs out there may get one or two page views, if that, a day. It’s more about putting these tools into people’s hands, and letting them run with it. We’re seeing some really cool stuff.

Greg: What type of stuff tends to be the most popular on Qik?

Bhaskar: It’s pretty much across the board. The sharing and collaboration with friends and family is a very big thing. We see a lot of family events. Travel diaries are another big thing, where people are traveling and pretty much cataloging their day to day activities.

Jackie: Concerts seem to be really popular with people. Now, when you go to a concert, security knows there is no way they’re going to stop everyone from recording on their cell phone. It used to be that people would take pictures, or call their friends and hold the phone up. We’re seeing a lot of people actually Qikking concerts. Somebody recently was at a Radiohead concert, and there was a Kylie Minogue concert in Spain the other night. I think it’s quite interesting. It’s a big event in those peoples lives — it’s not like the Stanley cup last night, we had some good footage from that — but it’s a big event in somebody’s life, and I think that’s the point. A lot of these things are big to the users.

Bhaskar: I’ll give you an example from one of the things that happened about a month or so back. There was a busy guy, who was expecting a kid. The kid was not due for a month or so, but he had to travel. The kid, of course, decided to come out. The mom was able to actually stream that video live to the dad, so he was able to participate in that birth-giving process. It really opens up when we look at it from these different usage scenarios, where people are streaming these personal events one-on-one, rather than broadcasting these huge events.

Greg: Heh, wow!

Jackie: Yeah – I don’t think you can get any more personal than giving birth.

Bhaskar: Also what we’re seeing as of late is an interesting trend where people, especially politicians, are using it for transparency purposes. John Colberson, who is a Congressman out of Texas, uses Qik on a regular basis. He covered the mars landing, recently. We are seeing that happen over in Spain, where the leaders of campaigning political parties are using Qik to provide transparency to the entire population.

Greg: With the 2.0 software rolling out soon for the iPhone, any plans for it?

Bhaskar: We are going to evaluate it once the iPhone gets launched next week to see what capabilities it has and what we need to do in order to support it. We’ll need to evaluate it and figure out the next steps therein.

Greg: After tomorrow’s announcement, what’s next for Qik?

Bhaskar: There are two things. One, we are trying to make sure people can Qik from all possible devices. We will be marching on that quest for both the smartphones and the feature phones that are Java enabled or BREW, and making sure people can be provided this experience from these phones. Also, we’re currently invitation only – we’ll be marching toward whatever we need to do to get it into beta.

TechCrunch has managed to score 50 invites to the invite-only alpha of the Windows Mobile version of Qik – see this post for more info.

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