Video communication is often as frustrating as it is compelling, especially on smartphones. Calls drop. Batteries die. Schedules fail to align. Communicating via video can sometimes feel magical at least partly because the rituals required to make it work are particularly arcane.
The trouble, to hear Glide CEO Ari Roisman tell it, is that we’re using synchronous video communications tools in an asynchronous world. We’re used to responding to an email or Facebook message whenever it’s most convenient for us. Having to make ourselves available at exactly the same time as the person we’re talking to feels, and in some ways is, anachronistic.
Roisman hopes to change that with Glide, which allows users to share video that can be watched in real-time or whenever they’ve got a spare moment. (The company refers to this as “live or later” in its promotional materials.) The service, which is available on the iPhone and Android smartphones, is today announcing a rapid increase in its daily active users and the amount of video they’re sharing. “Video texting,” as Roisman calls it, might actually become a thing.
Glide’s increasing popularity comes alongside a newfound focus on images, videos, and messaging services. Services like Snapchat have turned images into a communications tool; Vine and Instagram have sparked a rise in mobile video sharing; and companies like Facebook, Kik, LINE, and many others have renewed interest in private, one-to-one or one-to-few, communications.
Put another way: People want to use images and videos to communicate without having to upload them to public networks like, say, Facebook.
“Despite the global domination of Facebook — everything [sic] thinks that’s the gold standard — we’ve been quite surprised by the animosity and the enmity that a lot users feel towards Facebook,” Glide marketing director Guy Gordon told TechCrunch. “People write with righteous indignation — like, how dare we force them to use Facebook.”
Roisman says that Glide is working to remove the Facebook requirement from its app. Services like MessageMe, which was cut off from Facebook’s graph after it “rebuffed takeover interest from the social networking company” in March, have shown that Facebook isn’t as powerful as it seems, he says. Glide can probably survive — or perhaps thrive, given Gordon’s claims — without Facebook.
All of this places Glide in a position where it’s trying to show that video communications tools don’t have to work like a glorified phone call, that people want to use video to communicate with each other, and that new services don’t need Facebook to function. Then it just needs to start making money and try to stop “video texting” from sounding quite so ridiculous.