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A Beginner's Guide to Meerkat

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When we say Meerkat, you may think of the adorable Meerkat family made famous by Animal Planet's television series, Meerkat Manor. Today, we put the cute animal talk aside and focus on how this desert dwelling animal became the face of the newest social media frenzy: the Meerkat live-streaming video app.

What is Meerkat, You Ask?

Launched in late February of this year, Meerkat has steadily climbed the iPhone App Store ladder in rankings. Compared to other apps on the market, Meerkat resembles Vine and Snapchat videos, as well as Snapchat's logo with a matching yellow background and white Meerkat outlined in black for their logo. Meerkat, however, is a live-streaming video app that connects directly to your Twitter account, letting people watch what you watch as you are watching it. Due to its association with Twitter. You sign up for Meerkat via your Twitter account details, which means all comments and shares work through Twitter's network.

Watching live events was dominated by television until now. Meerkat changes the way people receive live, first-hand news from sports, celebrity, and political events. Watching events in real-time is now at the tips of our fingers and stored in our pockets.

Meerkat Taking SXSW Interactive By Storm!

What made Meerkat the talk of SXSW Interactive? A major setback. While this company and app rapidly grow, its dependence on Twitter recently hit a major roadblock. Twitter cut Meerkat off from their social graph meaning, as a Meerkat user, you cannot add followers from Twitter to your followers and friends on Meerkat. This roadblock came to light after Twitter announced its purchase of a similar live-streaming app called Periscope, which is still in the beta stages. The question of how Twitter will handle both live-streaming apps is yet to be answered.

Despite being denied access to Twitter's social graph, Meerkat CEO Ben Rubin, a 27-year-old architect from Israel, did not seem phased by the setback. He reported 20 percent of Meerkat users watch over 2 hours of live-streamed video a day and Meerkat saw a 30 percent increase in new users after the Twitter setback. Despite the odds, Meerkat is growing and gaining popular supporters. Early supporters of the app include skateboarder Tony Hawk and Iowa's own Ashton Kutcher.

Will Meerkat Survive?

Do not fret, we are not talking about the extinction of the adorable African animals, but rather the possible extinction of the new live-streaming video app dubbed Meerkat. In the past popular social sites, like Twitter and Foursquare, were once small and unknown until they took the stage and dominated at SXSW Interactive. As we have learned from watching American Idol, those who win do not always succeed. Meerkat was the apple of everyone's eye of SXSW this year, yet once-popular apps from this festival have been eaten up and vanquished by the success, such as the location-based app, Highlight, from 2012.

The Future of Meerkat

Starting a company is hard work, with odds and obstacles to overcome. Meerkat, in a mere 2 weeks, has become a viral topic and social app, triumphing over the hiccups many startups face. Success and popularity are only the first part of the equation. Success management and continual growth and improvement are the tricky business. Moving forward with development, Meerkat founders are working to create an Android version of the app, as it is now only available on iOS products, as well as branch out to other social media channels. Having already faced a setback by Twitter, Meerkat, made up of only 11 employees, is taking the hit in stride and looking to different social channels to connect with. With videos streaming from 170 countries, Ryan Cooling, head of community for Meerkat, isn't troubled by the difficulties Twitter presents. Cooling states, "Twitter is not the be-all-and-end-all of our growth. We can see other platforms that we can leverage to continue to grow the app." There are now early talks of Facebook partnering or even purchasing Meerkat.

The future of Meerkat is not foreseeable. The app itself has had very few technical issues and works well for most users. With only 160,000 current users, the app is still relatively unknown to those who do not follow social media or SXSW. Twitter has already cut-off their social graph from Meerkat. Who is to say they won't drop the app altogether upon the launch of Periscope? The future of Meerkat may be unpredictable, but it is definitely the app to watch.

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