Qik just opened up its previously closed beta to the public. Apparently, the public is so interested in the service that the site crashed completely just after the announcement was made (the site is back up now). Once it is back online, users will be able to stream live video from their supported mobile phones directly to the web without having to wait for an invitation from Qik.The live streaming video service
Besides a few other relatively minor upgrades, Qik now supports more granular permissions and the grouping of videos. Qik has also released an update to its video player, which, next to some cosmetic updates, now includes the option to chat with other users from within the player.
Qik also announced some new distribution partners, including Facebook, MySpace, and Orkut. Also, as we reported last week, CoverItLive not allows for embedding Qik videos into its live blogging application.
Live streaming now also works on the Verizon and Spring networks, whereas it was previously restricted to the AT&T and T-Mobile GSM networks.
Competitors and the iPhone
Qik's main competitors are Kyte and Flixwagon. Both of these services, however, are currently only available for phones running Nokia's S60 operating system, while Qik also works on Windows Mobile phones.
None of these applications work on the iPhone, yet (thanks to the lack of a video camera) - though Qik has shown a demo of its product that works on a jailbroken 1st generation iPhone. Kyte also has an application for the iPhone, but it can only be used to share photos.
While most live video streaming services like Justin.tv or Stickam have focused mostly on streaming from webcams (and Kyte also allows for this), Qik is fully focused on mobile video. This is clearly a growing market, especially as more consumers start considering video on mobile phones as a basic utility. With its broad range of supported phones, Qik is well-positioned against its competition.
Qik already has a number of high-profile users, with Robert Scoble, Kevin Rose, and Jason Calacanis regularly using the service to stream interviews or other events live to their followers.
Now if only its users wouldn't flood Twitter regularly by announcing that they are "streaming live now, come chat!"