Klip Beats Social Video Competitors with New Android App

By Michael Carney , written on June 26, 2012

From The News Desk

In the hotly-contested “social video wars,” Klip has emerged as the first platform to offer a full-featured version of its mobile app for Android. The company rebuilt the entire experience from the ground up, Klip VP Chris Hamilton tells me, catering to the large, brilliant screens and lightning fast data connections common to today’s Android devices. Having demoed the app personally, I can tell you it’s gorgeous.

I asked Hamilton about the decision to roll out on Android and whether he expected any user backlash similar to what was experienced by social photo app-maker Instagram when it first became dual-platform.

Quite the opposite he told me. The decision to expand to Android was made in response to persistent user demand. Current iOS users who used Klip have repeatedly sought to share their captured and discovered video content with friends who are Android users. Until now, this was limited to a desktop Web environment.

“Video capture and sharing is inherently mobile,” says Hamilton. “We know that it’s essential to enable as many users as possible to join and engage with the community wherever they are.”

The new Android app takes full advantage of the the up to 50 percent more pixels available on some Android devices versus its iOS app (offering 1280x720 vs. 960x640 pixel counts). “Now when users are browsing thumbnails, they can see more videos on the screen,” says Hamilton. “When users are watching videos they can see more comments without scrolling.”

In addition, Klip’s new Android version carries over nearly all of the features found in its iOS app, including a few that set it apart from the competition. One of the slickest is the ability for users to preview videos in the thumbnail viewer, something none of the others leading apps offer. The app also borrows from the concept of Google+ Circles, allowing users to share with the world or privately with only members of their Circle -- this is limited to a single circle at this time.

The biggest hole in the feature set of the new Android version is that does not yet offer the artistic video filters Klip users have come to know and love. This limitation should be short lived, as Hamilton pointed to an upcoming update for the addition of these creative tools.

The Klip app works on Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and higher versions, meaning it is available to about 73 percent of Android devices.

Klip, which launched last September, is not the only game in town and is hoping to catch up to market leaders Socialcam and Viddy, both of which entered the market approximately a half year earlier -- only Socialcam is available on Android and hasn't been updated since its launch a year ago.

Things have really heated up since the new year, however, coinciding with the launch of Facebook’s Open Graph. The resulting integration of third-party app data into the social network’s “Timelines” generated explosive growth for everything from social photo and video networks to music platforms like Spotify.

“We followed Viddy and Socialcam closely including their ability to exploit massive viral loop around Facebook,” says Benchmark Capital general partner and Klip investor Bruce Dunlevie. “We feel that the barn door has closed somewhat at this point. The ability to get durable users via the Facebook stuff remains to be seen.”

The big early winner amid the rampant growth was social photo network Instagram, which sold to Facebook for $1 billion in April. Klip competitor Viddy earned its own award for best capitalizing on the frothy aftermath of that deal. The company announced 120 percent user growth over an 11-day period immediately following that transaction, which culminated in a reported $30 million plus celebrity-laden financing round said to be valued at $370 million.

Klip has raised a total of $10 million to date, including an $8 million Series B round in October of last year from Benchmark Capital as well as a $2 million Series A round from Matrix Partners, just two months earlier.

Klip doesn’t report exact user figures, declaring only that it has “millions of users.” While definitive conclusions may be difficult to draw, in our experience, when companies are competing for audience in a crowded market, the leaders often shout their metrics from rooftops while the chasers tend to run head down, mouth shut.

There is no question that there will be relentless competition in the space. Klip will have to fight off not only Viddy and Socialcam, but conceivably Instagram (and Facebook), YouTube (and Google), and possibly others.

“I’m not sure it’s a winner-take-all space,” says Benchmark’s Dunlevie. “Once you get a considerable enough number of assets on a service, users tend to be very loyal and have developed habits that keep them around. That said, we could not be more pleased to back (Klip CEO) Alain Rossmann. He is deeply technical and hyper competitive, just the type of jockey we like to back.”