If you haven’t heard of Meerkat yet, let me quickly bring you up to speed. Meerkat is an app that was developed to work solely with Twitter to bring live video to the service. It has been enjoying a lot of praise lately and deservedly so, as their refreshing approach has an opportunity to impact the social media landscape the most since perhaps Vine.

The Meerkat app allows users to instantly share and interact with live video in real-time. I was able to sit in on a couple streams last night and they were surprisingly smooth. It felt as if somebody took a Google Hangout, removed all the hiccups and paired it with a service that lends completely to disposable social interactions. As long as somebody has the link to your stream they can view it on desktop or iOS devices.

Meerkat: Is it Just Snapchat for Twitter Users?

The most publicized use of Meerkat so far appears to be live streaming SXSW events and demonstrates one of the reasons why Twitter is the perfect companion app for it. Meerkat is excellent at capturing news as it happens and is the natural evolution for Twitter. It is also helps immensely with personal safety as it could be used to instantly connect with the public in a dangerous or life threatening situation. Either that or we could all just become a member of the paparazzi.

MeerkatOne drawback, perhaps, of Meerkat is that it is purely in the moment. Videos shown on Meerkat are like a self-destructing video and cease to exist the moment the stream ends. Just like Snapchat.

Supposedly you can save the clips from Meerkat (if you are the streamer) to be posted to other outlets like YouTube, but since the app is currently unavailable on Android outside of an unofficial viewing app from the apps creators, I wasn’t able to test this feature myself.

This leads to a few other interesting developments in the live video space. By only creating an official version of the app for iOS, Meerkat has left the door wide open for competitors entering through Android, which currently leads iOS in market share according to data published in February. In addition, Meerkat is solely dependent on Twitter for success, as evident last week when Twitter made a change that temporarily disabled the app.

Livestreaming Social Video Apps: Enter the Competition

The first is Periscope, who reports indicate was acquired by Twitter recently. Periscope has yet to launch their app to compete with Meerkat, but it’s rumored to be a similar live video streaming service. With the money Twitter has reportedly invested, Meerkat could find a tough road ahead if they continue to rely on Twitter as the backbone of their service.

Another competitor which I was able to test called Stre.am is available on both iOS and Android devices. This app is already more accessible and can be shared across Twitter, Facebook, Google+, email, and text messages. It can also shoot 15-second clips that are available for 24 hours and has live chat functionality. With literally the push of a single button I was sharing whatever mundane things were happening around my home office with anyone who cared to watch.  I wonder if anyone has filmed a meerkat with Meerkat yet……?

Although the applications for a simple live broadcast could be highly valuable, this type of app may not be accepted by the masses just yet and is still seeing more buzz than actual use. Sometimes it’s just not the right time for a new idea to flourish, although I expect this one to eventually take hold. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter or some other feed, instant video feels like a completely natural evolution of social media.

As with any new app or service, being an early adopter can help you get a leg up on the competition so it can’t hurt to give the Meerkat app a ride.