The Associated Press bought a minority stake in mobile video site Bambuser on Thursday. Bambuser — launched in 2007 — allows for shooting, editing, and even live streaming video on smartphones. AP’s investment comes just over a year after the two companies started a partnership in April 2012. Users can upload their video to the AP; the AP staff vets and selects video content to use on its site. The minority stake will give AP exclusive access to Bambuser content; users cannot share their content with any news organization other than the AP.
The AP investment shows the value of user-generated content. Notable Bambuser videos picked up by the AP include episodes of clashes between the Syrian army and the opposition, and the arrest of an unknown Russian activist (which he shot and broadcast himself). Bambuser — which had one million users in 190 countries as of its partnership with the AP — became well-known in 2011, when users broadcast footage of the Cairo protests using the platform.
Despite competition from the likes of Vine, Instagram and YouTube, the Swedish technology company has done a few things that could prop it up as the hub for the most newsworthy — and perhaps most entertaining — videos made by amateurs.
Bambuser works on any smartphone, not just on iOS and Android, which is an important differentiation for a mobile app that aims to be global. It also has web site where those without a smartphone can upload their videos to broadcast. Globally, Android and iOS make up 87% of mobile operating systems, according to the IDC. In the Middle East, however, Symbian is the most used operating system (37% of market share) according research published in 2012 by inMobi. In China, Android is the top operating system but Symbian still beats iOS (23% to 19%) according to ComTech.
The mobile video service also leaves no receiver out. It works on slow bandwidths; On fast connections, it broadcasts up to 35 frames per second. Streaming does not stop when the connection is slow — the video just becomes shakier.
In short, Bambuser is a streaming tool for the world as it is, not for ideal conditions such as 4G and top of the line smartphones. And that might be the key to its potential widespread adoption.