The Many Uses Of Qik

March 23, 2008

Qik Logo An interesting article from Los Angeles Times Interactive details the many uses of Qik, the new media startup that allows you to lifestream in real-time from your Nokia cellphone. Video streams live to the Qik website where it is saved for re-broadcast and even enable real-time chat as you’re taping.

While a tool that can undoubtedly be used for fun and games, Qik has several more practical uses according to the article. Hardcore user Jason Calacanis, founder of Mahalo, a human-powered search engine, finds quick a useful addition to his other online social networking activities. “My whole existence online is one big focus group,” said Calacanis, allowing him the insight and connections into his target market that he requires to build a product that people will try.

Besides its obvious business uses, Qik has been used for more compassionate reasons as well. One woman, whose paternal grandmother was in her death throes, was able to broadcast her grandmother via Qik so that her father, located thousands of miles away was able to see her and ultimately get to her bedside the day before she died.

Of course Qik has not-so-great implications as well. Like Calacanis notes, “The worst moment in almost everybody’s life is going to be captured on film”. But then again, we all know how few of us actually learn from our mistakes. History tends to repeat itself over and over again. But with a self-imposed big bro watching over us as technology turns life into one big lifestream, and with big bro’s vision saved on the web, maybe we’ll finally be able to learn from our mistakes by having the ability to review them. Maybe.

The monetization of online video is a huge topic of conversation in the blogosphere as the preferred communication medium within the intertubes is video rather than text.  What happens when you post a video on the web that registers 3 million hits in two months?  You would think that would translate into big bucks.  But the bandwidth required to transmit all of those video views can get pricey.  How pricey?  Well, rumor has it that Nick Denton received a $118, 000 bill from broadband provider Panther for the Tom Cruise Scientology video that has registered 3 million hits on his Gawker blog.  He apparently talked it down to $10, 000, but the point is that maybe monetization shouldn’t be the problem to be solved in the world of online video.  Maybe, before online video is a business model with high profit potential, we need to get the cost of data transmission down.  Food for thought.

According to this morning’s New York Times, the United States is lagging pretty badly when it comes to broadband penetration. Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Belgium and even Britain now have levels of broadband penetration greater than both the United States and Japan. The European Commission says that the European Union added 19 million broadband lines in 2007, which works out to about 50, 000 households per day! If the commission succeeds in diminishing the influence of the state-run telecommunications monopolies in some Eastern European countries, we will likely see the US fall even further behind as it would result in nearly half of EU countries at least on par with the US in broadband usage.

It’ll be interesting to see what effect this will ultimately have on the dynamic of the world economy. If the US lags too far behind in broadband usage, the new media economy could be centralized on another continent altogether, and be the first time the US didn’t dominate a particular industry since the Industrial Revolution.