Airtime has launched too early
Airtime, the new video social media app that works off Facebook was launched this week by Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning; who previously founded Napster, the first music sharing website and in the case of Sean Parker, was a co-founder of Spotify and an early employee of Facebook. This new app sounds interesting – a mix between Skype, YouTube and an old fashioned social club but I have reservations whether the time is right for an application like this.
To make Airtime distinctive from similar apps and websites like Skype, Hangouts (part of Google+), Ustream and Chatroulette, the developers have loaded it up with a large number of features. According to a press release issued at its launch; as well as offering video chat, Airtime allows users to send video messages, build a video library and gives users the opportunity to connect with strangers with shared interests or common friends. All of these features are very bandwidth heavy and most ISP would struggle under such a load.
To illustrate the extent of this problem at the official launch, which featured a host of celebrities including Snoop, Jim Carrey, Ed Helms, Julia Louis Dreyfus, Alicia Keys and Olivia Munn, the most abiding memory was not of the celebrities but that the organisers couldn’t get Airtime to work for more than a few minutes. If the developers couldn’t succeed at a star studded launch what hope is there for the rest of us? While it could be argued that official launches don’t always go to plan; Airtimes has declared that it’s not suited for use on portable devices which shows that they are aware that there will be problems using its services.
This is further underlined by a recent report from Akamai into the state of the internet which revealed that at the end of 2011 average global internet speeds were just 2.3Mbps and average US speeds just 5.3Mbps. On top of this the number of people using the internet grew a staggering 528.1% in 2011 according to Internet World Stats which means that right now outside certain select internet hotspots, like Boston which has an internet connection of 8.4Mbps, there is insufficient bandwidth to accommodate Airtime right now in addition to all the other internet usage.