Given the rapid success that Instagram is seeing, it should be absolutely no surprise the startups are rushing to the mobile photo/video sharing space. But is there room for more than one player? Probably, but again, there are dozens of other players who have already been working on building their user bases for months now as well. The new guys coming late to the game need a hook. Mobli’s hook is apparently going to be celebrity participation.
Mobli is an Israeli startup that is preparing to enter the space in a few weeks with an iPhone app and website, followed shortly thereafter by Android and BlackBerry apps. “Smartphones are gradually replacing video and digital cameras,” Gil Eyal, Mobli’s VP of Strategy tells us. But we already knew that, a lot of people do. How can they differentiate themselves?
Mobli’s plan is to be faster than the other players out there and to give you the most options for sharing. “By the time you take a video, within seconds, you’ve already uploaded it,” Eyal says. That’s smart, speed is one of the key factors for Instagram’s success (and they don’t do video). In terms of options, Eyal notes that content can be shared broadly or narrowly. They’re using the Twitter follow model, but you can also share things privately.
They’re also playing up the Color-like aspect of it. That is, you easily create channels for groups to easily share pictures into. For example, if a bunch of people are at a wedding, everyone can share their pictures into a single album on the fly. And all pictures/videos are geotagged (and can be optionally tagged to a Foursquare venue) to further narrow collections.
And these collections can be as broad as big news happening in foreign countries.
All that’s great. But again, the space is already crowded, they need a hook. Right now, the thing Eyal kept pointing me to was how active actor Lukas Haas is on Mobli. Haas is best known for his work in films like Inception and Brick — or if you want to go back to when he was a kid, Witness. More importantly, he’s bringing some other celebrity action to the site as well. Here’s Paris Hilton. Here’s Tobey Maguire. Here’s J-Lo, Kim Kardashian, and Fergie. To take advantage of this type of usage, Mobli has created a “paparazzi” channel just for celebrity spotting.
Mobli has raised $1.6 million over two rounds in the past year. Investors include Morrix Holdings and Mobili co-founder Moshe Hogeg. And while they won’t confirm it, I have the sneaking suspicion that Haas may be an investor as well.
The company currently has 13 employees working out of Israel, but they’re also setting up a New York office right now.
Again, look for Mobli to launch in the coming weeks.