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April 05, 2008

Inside Flixwagon

by Matthew


A bit over a week ago I had the privilege to sit down and chat with Xen Mendelsohn of MyFrame makers of Flixwagon. If you aren't familiar with Flixwagon, it is a Mobile Web 2.0 service that allows users to publish live (or nearly live) video from their mobile handsets. Unfortunately I missed meeting Xen in person at Mobile World Congress this past February but she could not have been nicer or friendlier from the few times we have spoken. During our chat we discussed many exciting things happening at Flixwagon, so without further ado let’s get to the good stuff.

Matthew: “I see Flixwagon has added some new features lately. What can we expect next?”

Xen: “Feeds, shorter delay, better video quality and supporting more devices”

Xen went on to tell me about some other exciting changes coming but unfortunately those were “off the record.” I can tell you they will be very much worth the wait, I’m anxious to see how they play out.

When asked about Flixwagon’s growth I was given a very coy answer, “We are very amazed to see so many users joining, interacting, interested in what we do. We keep getting a lot of inquiries about many devices.”

Now that Nokia is pushing ovi Share among its other services I was curious to know whether Flixwagon had any plans to include ovi in their content sharing plans with their recent inclusion of YouTube.

Xen: “ovi offers you to publish your videos after capturing them. We offer you live streaming of your video. After the broadcast, publishing a video given video to this or that site, I agree it's the same.”

Matthew: “Right, so where did YouTube come in?”

Xen: “YouTube is just another way to distribute your video once it's done. We recognize the importance of sharing your life pieces with friends and family. Therefore why not offer users to leverage their existing social networks to share their videos?”

Matthew: “Which is why I asked about integrated publishing to ovi.”

Xen: “This is definitely something we should be looking into, I agree.”

Obviously S60 isn’t the only platform out there and for any service to exceed it needs to be available to a wide variety of people, despite our personal preferences. Flixwagon is currently available for S60, Brew and J2ME. What is coming next?

Xen: “Windows mobile. We are going to provide live video streaming to Microsoft's tech event here in Israel.”

Matthew: “Will that be linked on Microsoft's site as well?

Xen: “All videos from the event will be broadcasted to Microsoft's event website and to Flixwagon TechEd 2008. They also have live news where they will broadcast snippets taken by Flixwagon users at the event.”

Matthew: “Will attendees be able to share either content on a collective page perhaps?”

Xen: “Microsoft has a collective page where every post that will be tagged with TechEd will show up there.”

Matthew: “I'll be sure to check it out, when is the event?”

Xen: “6-8th of April. It's going to be a huge event, Microsoft guys are very involved in the digital marketing arena."

Turning to a more technical specs and capabilities of Flixwagon, I wanted to know some of Flixwagon’s limitations.

Matthew: “For the best quality available today what's the minimum speed needed? And how many frames per second?”

Xen: “Flixwagon can broadcast with 100 bytes per second; however it might take time for your video to upload. Quality and latency tradeoff when having low bandwidth. you can use the low video quality with 100 kbs and have no buffering. As for frames per second it’s 15 frames. We’ve put our development effort to guarantee that your entire video will be uploaded even if you get out of range, as we believe the video is more important to the user. Once you get back into range, the streaming will be renewed.”

Since this interview I’ve had the opportunity to test out this theory and while Flixwagon does tend to reconnect to complete the upload of the queued video it is not consistent. During Ricky and Christina's Wedding for example I shot some video using Flixwagon but Flixwagon set to my WiFi network at home, obviously nowhere near the event. Those videos were saved to my device but they were never uploaded. Just last night I took video, this time I was set to my carrier’s APN and mid-upload switched to my WiFi connection. Flixwagon sent out the several alerts (1 2 3 4 5) to my linked twitter account however my single video was ever uploaded. The alerts sent to twitter linked to a Flixwagon page saying "We're sorry but this Flix is no longer available." I left the client running overnight in hopes the video would upload eventually, which it did not. On a previous occasion my video uploads survived a complete reboot.

Matthew: “Do you have plans for a desktop client to compete with sites such a seesmic?”

Xen: “We're focused on the mobile as that is where we bring innovation. Seesmic, mogulus and others are places for integration, as I see it. Users should be able to distribute their videos easily and to many social communities. One more thing that we are working on and I forgot to mention earlier is the site itself. We are working on the user interface, the look and feel and many other features that are site related. And don't forget that along side of the development, we have been supporting events, like MTV's Choose or Lose. We are working on a mobile site as well. Especially to provide an easy way to download the mobile client.”

Matthew: “Can you give me an idea of most commonly used devices?

Xen: “Currently, in the US there is only one device, the N95. In Europe we support also the 6120, N76, Nokia 5700 Music Express, E65, N93 and another 10-15 devices are coming. Most of the users have N95, I'd say that more than 90%. The rest have the 6120 and only a few have the rest of the devices."

Matthew: “Which country is Flixwagon most popular?”

Xen: “A good question. First, many users haven't entered their correct country so this info is not that accurate. Most are either American, English or Israeli, but there are also representatives of many European countries.”

Matthew: “Is there anything else, I haven't asked you'd like to add?

Xen: “I'd like to add that we welcome any feedback, feature requests and bug reporting. It helps us improve and get better understanding of our users. Oh, and I totally forgot FliXee.”

Matthew: “Your widget?”

Xen: “We haven't spoken about it at all. Yes, so the press release is mostly about the widget. I meant, that you haven't put it in your site. We got Sarah Meyers, a very famous video blogger to love it and use it."

Matthew: “The new site will be up soon maybe I'll work it in. At least on our personal pages anyway.”

Xen: “That would be great!”

I thank Xen for her time and sharing some of the many exciting features coming from Flixwagon. If you haven't yet tried or checked out Flixwagon, take a moment to do so. It is certainly worth your time.

As these new Web 2.0 or Mobile Web 2.0 sites develop it will be interesting to see how they develop, generate revenue or which companies will snatch up these newly developed technologies and services.


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Did you find Bia Kunze from Brazil! This is cool!


hey darla, i knew you from textamerica long time ago anyway how are you mobile diva? i saw your site through twitter.. btw, i do not know if you know about www.qik.com where you can broadcast live simultaneously (qik, youtube, justin.tv) via your nokia n95

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