Qik Opens to Public

Live mobile streaming service Qik goes into public beta Monday, adding support for many more phones, including those running on the Verizon and Sprint networks.

We broke the initial story on Qik back in the day, and played around with a tester phone when we went to the Webby Awards. Our take? Live mobile video may not ever become a mainstream phenomenon, but it’s an incredibly interesting application of technology with all sorts of potential uses.

Along with its public release, the Foster City, Calif.-based company is also building out the features of its service, such as a Kyte-like player that feeds in the latest video and a groups option where users can limit either the contributors or viewers of videos. It also now includes an option (not by default) to speed up the time of transfer (while reducing the quality) to 1.5-3 seconds from a previous setting of 2-5 seconds. Another coming feature is SMS and email notifications — especially important because things worth live-streaming are often serendipitous and unplanned.

During its alpha-testing period Qik saw 125,000 videos produced by “tens of thousands” of users. The company has long offered an embeddable player, and it seems to be paying off; Qik reported that 57 percent of video views happening on other sites.

Bhaskar Roy, Qik’s co-founder and VP marketing, said in an interview last week that Qik intends to further open up its service, partnerships, and APIs. He said the company doesn’t mind white-labeling its technology for other sites; it doesn’t want to be a destination, it just wants to power live video everywhere. Qik already powers mobile video for Mogulus and Justin.tv.

As Qik, which is often in lockstep with competitor Flixwagon, opens to the public, it will rely on a combination of content monitoring and community flagging to limit objectionable content. Roy said he didn’t anticipate this being as much of a problem as on other sites because all users have to register their cell phone number, so they are hardly anonymous.

Qik does not plan to monetize using advertising but rather by offering things like commercial services and premium accounts. However, it will roll out those programs at the end of this year at the earliest, and for now is subsisting on its $4 million in venture funding.