I have to admit, it’s not the most intuitive name, bibbil. It sounds like a Hobbit that might be related to Bilbo in fact and that doesn’t inspire thoughts of gamified video chat in my mind, but hey, what’s in a name, right? Anyway, Bibbil (actually no relation to Bilbo) is all about gamified video chat on Facebook, so that sounded pretty cool and I went to check it out.
Bibbil really is quite simple, actually. It uses a Shockwave Flash player that loads up right in the browser window while on Facebook. Of course, you’ve got to keep that page open because that’s where the player is anchored but you can also open pages in the background and multitask like I tend to do at times, even when video chatting.
The video platform is from Botox, er I mean TokBox (still sounds strange) and it seems that Bibbil is really just a merging of the Facebook and TokBox APIs it seems as they offer the OpenTok API and it can even run in AIR for mobile so theoretically you could have an AIR client running on the PC as well I suppose so that you weren’t locked into the browser for the chat.
The other thing that Bibbil is adding to the experience, aside from the ease of just popping onto a video chat with friends on Facebook, is the accrual of Bibbills (a virtual currency) that will allow you to, over time, unlock more advanced features like group video chat, party video chat, live broadcasting, and more. I’m not exactly sure what the difference is between group and party video chat honestly. Maybe one is private while the other is public?
The live broadcasting feature could be nice. It might be another way to instantly get some live streaming video connected to your Facebook and Twitter channels aside from the long list of other apps
Since I have plenty of friends outside of the US now, I got one to do a quick demo with me. I was on wired LAN and she was on Wi-Fi over in Central Europe. So spanning seven time zones the video was blocky and pixelated, and the sound wasn’t all that great. But like I said, she was on Wi-Fi and I didn’t have someone available to test on another wired LAN so quality, I suspect, varies by connection, etc.
Overall, the app looks to have some potential, though their attempt at gamification doesn’t really seem to be all that integrated, almost like an after thought, like they said, “How will we get people to use this? Let’s throw useless virtual currency at them and hold back features.” Also, I don’t quite see how they will monetize unless they use the Facebook Credits. But if those become invalid because of a new potential lawsuit against them (because they are blocking out competition), then it might turn to cold hard cash and then it will spiral down into pay-to-use or sesison-based payments.
I think I’ll just stick with Skype for the time being. Sure, it doesn’t get me live broadcasting, but right now, neither does Bibbil. However, there could be some really great potential here and I’m curious to learn more about the live broadcasting and other planned features.