A couple days ago we caught wind of a new Seesmic product called Seesmic Look. Today it is launching and we finally get a look at it. As suspected, it is a streamlined Twitter client aimed at the Oprah crowd. But it is also a Tablet-friendly client that tries to organize the stream into easily browsable channels, some of which are sponsored by brands.
Seesmic Look is the company’s second Windows client. As such, it works on touchscreen Windows Tablet computers, and can also be controlled by a remote on a computer-connected TV screen. It comes with pre-populated channels and interest streams so that users can dive right in without even creating a Twitter account. Once you do log in, you can see your inbox (@replies and direct messages) and “social” stream, which is what the people you follow are Tweeting about.
As Tweets move down the screen they get smaller, or you can literally watch Tweets come in and fade-away in what looks like a screensaver mode. Linked photos appear in-line, and soon so will videos. Also, the background images are pulled in from each individual Twitter user’s account whenever you look at their Tweets.
The main navigation menu includes trends, favorites, interests, channels, and searches. When you select one, the app brings up Tweets, categories, and pre-selected accounts, which you can explore further. Interests and channels are pretty much the same thing—curated lists of Twitter accounts by topic—except that the channels are sponsored by brand advertisers such as Red Bull, Live Nation, and Kodak, while the interests are not. Interests include news, sports, politics, music and celebrities. The branded channels show a logo in the corner, but the actual Tweets are from real people. For instance, Red Bull puts together Tweets from athletes.
This is the first time Seesmic is offering any advertising spots in its stream reader. Since the branded channels are essentially just lists (although they are controlled by Seesmic, not Twitter), down the line they can be added into Seesmic’s other various desktop and mobile clients. Seesmic is also speaking with tablet and computer manufacturers about distribution deals. And the app seems to be officially sanctioned by Twitter. It has a “Powered by Twitter” icon at the bottom, which is notable given Twitter’s prior guidance that third-party apps not use the Twitter trademark.
Seesmic Look’s user interface reminds me of stripped-down interactive TV interfaces designed for a 10-foot experience. The intention is definitely to make Twitter more accessible and TV-like. The channel metaphor is there for a reason. But do people really want to sit back and watch Tweets flow by? I guess power users do that all day long squinting at their text-only streams. Maybe to the extent that photos and videos are attached to Tweets, mainstream users will begin to find it addictive as well.