2007 Tech Trends No. 7: Lifecasting

Share

ustream-tt.jpg

In 2006, YouTube became an internet sensation, as thousands of savvy users realised they could grasp their 15 minutes of fame online, armed only with a good idea and a digital camera / webcam / mobile phone. Sure, there’s loads of rubbish on YouTube, but there’s also some killer vids that wouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near a ‘professional’ TV studio.

So what’s next? YouTube is still around, of course, and expanding to mobile seems to be its next big push. But there’s a new trend bubbling up that takes video-sharing to the next level: lifecasting, where you stream video live, rather than recording clips to upload to YouTube.

I’m talking Justin.tv, which has expanded from one guy streaming his life 24/7 to become a platform that other wannabe-lifecasters can use. I’m talking Ustream.tv, which lets you get up and broadcasting within minutes of signing up. And I’m talking rivals like BlogTV.

At the moment, lifecasting isn’t actually that interesting – mainly because most of the people doing it are geeky white guys sitting at their work desks, with a webcam broadcasting them tapping away at a keyboard. It’s hardly rivetting stuff, even if you know them.

But in the next six months, I expect lifecasting technology to break out of that niche demographic, attracting keener YouTube users who’ve got the bug for internet broadcasting. There’ll be more people with Something To Say, or something interesting to show.

They won’t all have the mobile technology – and, more pertinently, the unlimited data tariffs – to do Justin-tv style broadcasting on the go, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to break out of the ‘man at desk’ current format.

Meanwhile, expect blogs and journalists to also catch onto the potential of lifecasting – something that’s already happening in the US judging by the blogs broadcasting live from iPhone queues around the country last month. We’ll see more of this sort of thing for sure, which might not compete with the traditional broadcasters for technical quality, but certainly could for topicality and timeliness.

THE BIG QUESTIONS

1. Will Google buy one of the emerging lifecasting startups and merge it with YouTube?

2. How expensive is it really to set up your own Justin.tv style 24/7 lifecast, and will your mobile operator stomach the data-streaming costs?

3. Will the lifecasting startups start to combine different people’s broadcasts into ‘channels’ of content? For example, if someone does an hour show every Sunday at 7pm, could they be sorted into a channel with someone else who takes the 6pm slot, and so on?

THE FULL TECH TRENDS LIST
1: Telly 2.0
2: Green Gadgets
3: Blu-ray and HD DVD convergence
4: Virtual Reality
5: Touchscreens
6: Mobile social networking
7: Lifecasting
8: Bluetooth music
9: DRM-free music
10: Wi-Fi personal media players

Stuart Dredge