TwitCasting, a five-year-old mobile live stream app from out of Japan, is looking to expand beyond the country’s borders - and it's eyeing the young people of Southeast Asia as its next tranche of users.
In an email interview with Yahoo Singapore, Yosuke Akamatsu, CEO of Moi Corporation, the company that developed TwitCasting, said they are aiming to expand from Twitcasting’s current user base of 10 million monthly users to over 30 million by 2017.
Part of the move to hit this number is the global launch of Twitcasting’s updated version later this month. The new version will include several key updates to the existing app, including a simpler and cleaner user interface, Instagram integration and the ability to broadcast in landscape as well as portrait mode.
"We are aiming for younger generation market as we did in Japan,” Akamatsu said, adding that the app is available in Indonesian and Thai as well as English, Portuguese, Spanish, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese and Korean.
"We are observing (Southeast Asia’s) network environment and looking for the right moment to enter the market,” he said.
TwitCasting, launched in Feb 2010, hit 10 million registered users last April. Interestingly, a large percentage of these users are very young - 55% are under 24 years old. There are also significantly more female users than male, a 60%-40% split to be exact.
Taking on Periscope
Asked how TwitCasting intends to contend globally with the Twitter-owned Periscope live streaming app, Akamatsu said there’s different user behavior for the two apps.
“If you have quality content to broadcast and want reactions from random people, Periscope is a great tool. If you have no content, but want to communicate, TwitCasting will allow that wherever you are, whatever the network you are on,” he said.
Asked to elaborate, he said the difference between Periscope and TwitCasting is that Periscope is suitable for broadcasting content that's already interesting to people, such as live events or great scenery.
"Our users are broadcasting casual conversations, like the kind in daily life. We think encouraging communication and avoiding disconnection is more important compared to high quality images.
"As a result, a lot of teenagers integrate TwitCasting in their daily life. They TwitCast while putting on make up before school, on the way to school, lunch time, after school or before going to bed,” he said, adding that this kind of user behavior is influencing artists and models.
What’s special about TwitCasting and how will it avoid Meerkat’s fate?
The big difference between TwitCasting and other live streaming apps in the market is that TwitCasting’s custom encoding enables it to dynamically adjust to network strength and broadcast even in low bandwidth environments (as low as 88 kbps). Most live stream apps require 500 kbps or more. TwitCasting also minimizes data usage; in a 4G environment, a thirty minute live stream on an iPhone6 (TwitCasting Standard streaming mode:150~300kbps) will use only 106MB, whereas a Periscope live stream of the same length consumes 190MB - almost double.
TwitCasting, which currently runs on a team of 15 people, has a monetization model built on ads and in-app purchases. Viewers can send items or virtual gifts to broadcasters using points that can be bought.
"Items are also available without buying points, but for those who want to send more than others, we prepared points,” Akamatsu said.
He declined to disclose the company’s revenue and profits, but said they have enough revenue to "balance things well".
Moi Corporation received $5million in funding last year and has begun talking to investors again and is looking to make a funding-related announcement later this year.
When asked what TwitCasting planned to do in order to avoid the fate that befell Meerkat, a similar live streaming app that debuted to much fanfare earlier this year but saw its access to Twitter limited when Twitter purchased Periscope, Akamatsu said TwitCasting created an account system in 2014 in order to build a user community with external services.
"You can create your account with email account and link to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,” he said.
"We follow all the rules perfectly, so Twitter-san will not be mad at us!”