Darren Waters

Going live from a mobile

  • Darren Waters
  • 25 Feb 08, 19:35 GMT

Mobile phones are transforming into multimedia devices. From photos to GPS and video phones are being put to extreme challenges.

One Silicon Valley based firm,, has developed a tool which turns your phone into a live broadcasting system.

I'm meeting the CEO of Qik later today and will be broadcasting the interview live on my phone - a first for the Dot.Life blog, and probably a first for BBC News.

You can watch the interview here live from about 00.30 GMT (Tuesday) or 1630 PST (Monday).

UPDATE: So I "went live" from my mobile phone for the first time today. I did a quick interview with the CEO of Ramu Sunkara and then sat down with some of the firm's staff to discuss life as a start-up and to get a measure of their ambitions.

The first thing to note is that the technology works as advertised. Qik is a piece of software you download to your phone that both buffers and sends footage back in real time to the Qik servers, which transcode the video into flash.

You can embed your Qik "channel" on pretty much any website and people can watch your exploits live, leave comments, or watch the video back later as it sits on Qik's servers.

Qik is a great example of how mobile phones are taking full advantage of technologies which are collapsing into one device - multimedia capabilities, messaging, always on connections and the robustness of the phone's operating system.

But for Qik to ultimately succeed it requires the coalescence of a number of things - first the continued evolution of network capability, which is a bit of a given.

Then the removal of costs barriers around data charges, which appears to happening.

Finally, it needs a paradigm shift in how people approach mobile video because the "live" element changes everything.

The great strength of mobile handsets is that they transcend space and time. Video can be recorded and then played back on the net, via sites like YouTube, whenever we want.

Do we want our lives to be actually "live"?

Ramu Sunkara believes we do.

I think Qik offers great potential for bloggers, citizen journalists and potentially professional broadcasters.

As Flash codecs improve and bandwidth on cell networks develop there is terrific scope to do some of our reporting live via a phone.

The big question for Qik is how can they make money?

Bhaskar Roy from the firm told me that Qik is currently focused on its community, growing its users and improving the experience.

The firm also sees itself as a potential mobile video partner for third parties - and I was told of one such arrangement the firm will announce in a few weeks time.

My one question that keeps nagging at the back of mind though is - does the mainstream want to broadcast live from a phone? What do you think?


  • 1.
  • At 03:18 AM on 26 Feb 2008,
  • song wrote:

it's really amaing!

  • 2.
  • At 05:38 AM on 26 Feb 2008,
  • Frank wrote:

Have you heard the word 'gimmick' before?

I was wondering if you or the developers have considered the possibilities of using this system in education - could, for instance, students receive 'live' lessons from a teacher on their mobiles?

I have been following Robert Scoble and how he is starting to use Qik. I think Qik or something like Qik has got great potential to change broadcasting, particularly in the areas of news, arts, and sports reporting, but also in a wider area of citizen journalism. The ability to broadcast live is not second nature to most people now, but I think it will be in the not too distant future.

  • 5.
  • At 11:08 AM on 26 Feb 2008,
  • Radioman wrote:

Fascinating. Does anyone know if it could be used in audio-only mode? If so it could be a good low-cost solution for local radio stations for outside broadcasts and ENG reports if quality is good enough (and delay not excessive)

  • 6.
  • At 11:55 AM on 26 Feb 2008,
  • Mark Deamer wrote:

I think its great that the BBC are embracing new broadcasting technologies. However I feel that the technology is not advanced enough yet to provide the BBC with the quality that we the public are used to.
The broadcasts from the mobile expo in barcelona were of poor quality, as with this qik clip. Its just not good enough to keep my attention and I normally click off when I see things like this.

  • 7.
  • At 02:47 PM on 26 Feb 2008,
  • Simon Rockman wrote:

Why use custom software on the handset? Qik is only S60 and only has limited battery life.

Why not use standard 3GPP h.263 and stream that straight to a website. Then anyone with a 3G phone can do this.

The quality won't be as good but it's much more widely availiable.


This is no gimmick. Things take a while to catch hold. People used to laugh at me when I used Google back in the late 90' who uses anything else?

Today I work in education and things I discover as part of my job as a technologist usually take about 2 years to come to general accepted usage.

So, now thaat blogging and Podcaasting is finally taking off in schools, this tool will be improved and become integral to "The Peoples Media".

  • 9.
  • At 04:36 PM on 26 Feb 2008,
  • chris wrote:

interesting stuff, i love playing with video bloggs...ive been using when i came accross it a year or so ago...similar idea in that you can record a live stream from anywhere but i get it sent to my email so i can edit before can post direct to a few places for you, just not mine yet

  • 10.
  • At 05:24 AM on 27 Feb 2008,
  • zahadum wrote:

yep, the the complain by the other posters is correct: it is a dumb to choose a proprietary (and notoriously ineffecient) codec such as flash rather than a proper mobile codec (3GPP).

why does the bbc not have an editorial guideline when it comes to the underscoring how a given technology is a threat to the open internet?! (flash is closed content, not part of any w3c specification, and not manageable by proper xml, etc).

does not a public broadcaster have some duty to be an advocate for the common good? ... instead of slathering like a PR sock puppet, should not a BBC journo exhibit some objectivity?! ... eg at least mention that gizmmo X is at odds with the spirit of the net!

Zahadum, The BBC has not "chosen" flash for mobile video. We're not endorsing Qik, or partnering with Qik.
We're simply using it in this instance to talk about all of these issues.
Your feedback is part of this process.
It just helps when your feedback is a bit more constructive.
You might want to read this as it explains our intentions.

This is not a gimmick! The World Economic Forum will trial next Tuesday with a live video briefing on the occasion of the launch of the Travel & Tourism report.
Jennifer Blanke, the author of the report will be available for questions in real time on Tuesday 4 March 2008 from 09.00 to 09:30 and from 15.00 to 15.30 CET at:

This is not a gimmick! The World Economic Forum will trial next Tuesday with a live video briefing on the occasion of the launch of the Travel & Tourism report.
Jennifer Blanke, the author of the report will answer questions in real time on Tuesday 4 March 2008 from 09.00 to 09:30 and from 15.00 to 15.30 CET at:

This post is closed to new comments.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites