South by Southwest has been known to launch apps into viral popularity. In 2007, it was Twitter. In 2009, Foursquare. And at this year's festival, happening now, there's one app that everyone is buzzing about: Meerkat. It comes up often at panels, and you hear people on the streets saying they're "meerkating."
So, what is it? Meerkat is an iPhone app that instantly streams live videos to your Twitter followers. When you begin a stream, Meerkat will notify your followers and tweet a link that shows up in their feeds. You can only watch the stream live (no replays), but you can save it to your phone. Followers see the stream through the Meerkat app or a web browser, and they can leave comments. Ben Rubin, a 27-year-old former architecture student from Israel, launched the iOS app on Feb. 27, and it already has hundreds of thousands of users. Wowza.
Because it's so closely connected to Twitter, the company has pushed back. A few days ago, Twitter cut off Meerkat's ability to access its social graph, meaning users can't automatically link their Twitter followers to their Meerkat account.
Already, several media companies, celebrities, and brands have taken advantage of the app. Michelle Phan used it to live stream her SXSW session on Monday, and Tony Hawk broadcasted a skating stunt.
Consider it the Blue Ivy of apps: it's just a baby, everyone can't stop talking about it, and its future looks bright.