Mobile broadcaster Flixwagon hitches to iPhone

Flixwagon, a tool for live video broadcasting to the Web via smartphones, is developing versions for Flash and Windows Mobile devices, too.

Flixwagon, a tool for live video broadcasting to the Web via smartphones, is working on a version for the Apple iPhone and Windows Mobile devices.

Tel Aviv, Israel-based Flixwagon is still relatively new. In January, the company launched a free downloadable application for video broadcasting for the Symbian mobile operating system, used largely by Nokia smartphones such as the N95. In February, MTV became its biggest customer, by deploying 23 street reporters with Flixwagon-enabled phones to report on Super Tuesday.

Now, the company is developing support for additional mobile platforms so that it can appeal to an even wider set of customers and media partners. Sarig Reichert, the company's co-founder and vice president of marketing, said that it's working on applications for Java, Windows Mobile, and the iPhone. (Demo here.) That will give Flixwagon entree to tens of millions of phones. In the coming weeks, it also plans to update its technology to include greater controls over the quality of video people can capture and post to the Web.

The company's better-known rival Qik has started offering support of the Windows Mobile operating system by invitation only.

With Flixwagon, people can record a video with the click of a button and have it broadcast to the Web within seconds, depending on the mobile phone connection. On the back-end, Flixwagon trans-codes the video file from the phone to a Flash widget, which at its best output, delivers 320x240 video at 15 frames per second. With a bad connection, it might broadcast video at half the number of frames.

On the downside, the rawness of mobile broadcasting can come off like a Blair Witch Project-style documentary. On the upside, it's incredibly fast and efficient for telling a story, updating friends on your life, or archiving video-worthy moments.

People can choose to upload their clips to a public or private page on Flixwagon, cross post the clip to YouTube, or send an announcement to a Twitter account. Flixwagon followers can also chat with people who are posting videos.

Apart from MTV, Web surfers might stumble on more and more Flixwagon or Qik video installments. Reichert said the company is talking to major media companies about using its technology for citizen journalism, news reporting, or even video streaming for reality TV shows.

"MTV opened up the minds of people in the industry about what you can do about live video broadcasting," Reichert said during an interview Wednesday at the On Hollywood Conference.

The company has raised an angel round of funds from investors in Israel, and it will soon close a round of venture capital investment, according to Reichart. The company makes money through partnership like the one with MTV. It charges service fees for hosting and distributing videos. The company also hopes to sign deals with mobile phone carriers, with which it would share revenue.

Here's a rough cut of a home Flixwagon video, a Flash widget cut and pasted into this blog.


Update at 1:45 p.m.: Qik said that it is has a demo version for the iPhone, too.

News.com's Greg Sandoval contributed to this report.

 

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