Victoria Jameson | @VictoriaJameson
A few days ago, popular live streaming app ‘Blab’ was shut down by creators just over a year after development. With over 3.9 million users on the app for an average of 64 minutes a day, many were shocked at this announcement.
For those of you unfamiliar with the app, here’s a summary. Blab is a social network designed to give users a platform on which to connect via live video conversations. It’s unique in that up to four users could create a room and chat together in real time, and users could tune in to watch them ‘Blab’. All content created on the app was saved and available for download after the fact, which then could be uploaded to YouTube or other video sharing platforms.
Live streaming mobile apps have been growing in popularity over the past few years. In January 2016, live streaming was ranked as one of the top predicted social media trends for the coming year. This type of social media technology is perfect for brands to reach out and connect with their consumers. They also offer a great outlet for bloggers, celebrities, and internet gurus of all kinds to interact with their fans.
It’s easy to see the incredible amount of advertising power an app such as Blab would have with people around the world. There is a large market for brands to be able to personally connect with their consumers. So why was one of the fastest growing outlets for live streaming shut down so soon after it’s release?
Blab co-founder, Shaan Puri, has identified two main reasons to blame for the end of the Blab era: the live stream content being created and the objective of its users. “Most live streams suck,” Puri stated bluntly in a blog post that announced the app’s early demise, “Most live streams aren’t interesting enough to justify stopping what [users] are doing to watch [a] broadcast”. In fact, the app’s developers found that only 10% of their users came back to the app on regular basis.
On the other side of the issue, Puri pointed out the vast differences in the app’s users. Blab developers found that the divide between broadcasters who were actually creating content and everyday people looking to make friends began to widen as the app grew. This meant that people were more interested in creating their own content than watching content created by others, which wasn’t what the founders had intended. The most successful influencers were using the app an average of 2 hours a week, while the average user was broadcasting to ‘hangout’ for five to six hours daily.
Unintentionally, Blab became more of a place to “hangout” than a place to broadcast and create interesting content. And the app embraced that first. This past May, the desktop homepage of the app shifted from featured videos to a new layout that highlighted the tag line “Blab is where you go to hangout with your crew. Make a room where you can talk, watch videos & listen to music together." Around the time of this major change, the company launched another app, Bebo, with the tagline “swipe to chill”. The combination of these events alarmed top influencers and raised red flags as to the future of Blab. Many began utilizing other platforms that are better suited for broadcasting, such as Facebook Live and Periscope.
So finally Blab’s creators have pulled the plug on the app. They were hoping to create a social media phenomenon turned generational influencer much like AOL Instant Messenger, MySpace, FaceBook, and Twitter. Blab may have fallen slightly short of this, but Puri has assured Blab lovers that the development team is “taking what worked, and doubling down on it”. Needless to say, Blab users were heartbroken at this news, but the promise of a new and improved replacement is something to look forward to.
Calling it quits seemed premature, given the app had 3.9 million users logging on every day, but its creators just didn’t feel like the platform lived up to what they had envisioned.
“For us, we would rather fail trying to achieve our mission, than succeed at someone else’s mission,” Puri concluded at the end of the heartfelt announcement. From the outside looking in, it seems that the real end of Blab was the conflict between the what the developers had intended and how the app organically grew into something different.
In the end, it’s up to the brand to either adjust their flight path and embrace the new scenery or to grab a parachute and bail. The app still had a lot of potential to fill the void that Google Hangouts has not yet conquered, but it just wasn’t something the developers felt that Blab was meant for. It will be interesting to see what new platform Blab’s creators will develop next.
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