Home Twango Tackles Lucrative Media Sharing Market

Twango Tackles Lucrative Media Sharing Market

Twango is a new media sharing service, for video,
photos and other media. It’s similar to eSnips, Multiply and PeopleAggregator, in that it combines media
sharing with social networking. Twango was founded by a group of 5 ex-Microsoft employees
in fall 2004 and officially launched in October 2006. I spoke to co-founder, Randy Kerr,
yesterday about Twango and their plans for it. First let’s review the app itself…

Product Overview

Twango claims to support 110 file types in all – including the obvious ones like
pictures, videos, audio files, Microsoft Office documents, and PDFs. Users can upload
their media to Twango via the Web UI, or via email or a camera phone. Twango also lets
users specify access settings, to make their media private or public. Other features
include conversion and synchronization of all iPod-compatible files, mobile uploads,
embedding, and tagging.

Co-founder Jim Laurel told me via email that Twango aims to be more than just a “destination
experience”. He said their long term play is to be a platform. What this means is
that Twango will increasingly sync their media with other services and devices, and provide APIs and other tools. Laurel said this is part of the reason Twango has taken longer to get to market than some of
their competitors, because they’ve been working to get the underlying platform right.

The following graph illustrates what Twango is all about:

Source: Twango

Mobile is key to Twango’s plans and as well as the PC market in the US, they’ll be
targeting a “mobile-to-mobile” experience in countries where mobile is big.
mobile.twango.com is being developed, and a Windows Mobile phone scenario based on Twango
API was mentioned.

Market and Target Audience

As far as the market goes for media sharing, Randy Kerr told me that they see it
“still in its infancy” – he quoted me a stat from Forbes.com that claims “only 7% of
digital images captured in 2005 were uploaded to the web”. He told me “the average user
has yet to arrive” on media sharing sites and that currently it’s just early adopters.
Right now they’re targeting those early adopters, as well as the “post collegiate”
audience. So their target demographic is older and “perhaps more sophisticated” than the
MySpace crowd – i.e. in the 24-39 age group.

Competitive Landscape

As well as eSnips and Multiply, Randy mentioned “the one trick ponies” that do just
one thing well – video, photos, etc. So he thinks Twango’s ability to handle lots of
different media types is a strength for them.

I said that the big companies, like Apple with iLife, are also enabling media sharing.
Microsoft is likely to do that too. So I asked Randy how they will compete with Apple and Microsoft.
Randy told me that Twango is “almost a better .Mac”. He said that social software and the
Web platform are key differentiators for them, compared to Apple, Microsoft et al. Randy
also noted that Microsoft currently has a lot of disconnected products for media sharing
– Soapbox, Spaces, etc. He says there is little synergy or co-ordination in Microsoft’s
media sharing products.


Twango is an ambitious product. I am usually not a fan of services that try to do too
much – I actually prefer using best-of-breed apps that focus in on one thing and do it
well. As John
Milan wrote
this week on R/WW, a best-of-breed ecosystem is developing on the Web.
But I can see Twango’s goal here is to be a platform for media sharing, so supporting
multiple media types is a requirement for them. 

As with most web 2.0 services, the proof of the pudding will be whether Twango can
attract users and get network effects going. I also think Twango will face tough
competition from Apple and Microsoft – and probably AOL, Yahoo and Google down the track.
All of those big companies will utilize the Web platform more going forward, for media
sharing, so Twango will have their work cut out competing against them. But as Randy
hinted at, those big companies will be relatively slow at rolling out such products and
coordinating them, so Twango has a window of opportunity now. Technically the product is
sound and if they can attract users fast in 2007, then they have a decent crack at the
large looming media sharing market.

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