Burst, The Family-Friendly Instagram Of Video, Goes For Olympic Gold

The recently launched Burst is another system that would like to be the "Instagram of video." But where SocialCam and Viddy are trying hard to appeal to users by the million, with high-profile celebrities using the systems to share clips, Burst is aiming at a very different demographic. It wants to be the app you automatically reach for when you're sharing a video with your family.

Like those peer apps Viddy and Socialcam, the upcoming Olympic games in London present a great promotional opportunity for Burst, and the company is partnering with U.S. fencer Tim Morehouse, who's about to participate in his third Olympics.

Although the games are shaping up to be a highly social event, there are ironclad restrictions about how athletes and even, in some cases, public attendees can share games-related content over social media. But in this case Burst is a great way to share behind-the-scenes video information with friends and fans. Morehouse tells Fast Company that he's already set up sharing lists to "share with media folk who follow me, one for family, and one that's more fan orientated. In the past I tried to send videos from my phone using other applications, and it just took so long. With Burst it gets there really quickly, and it's very easy to share the content I want to with specific groups."

In London, Morehouse plans on using Burst to "provide a behind the scenes at the Olympics, the sort of stuff you might not normally get to see in the mainstream--my personal experience of the games, even down to boarding the plane over there." Previously he has tried wide-burst stuff using Twitter and so on, "but there's definitely been things I wanted to share on a more personal level. I think now everything's about 'the moment' and this app provides the ability for me to have a moment that I can film on video, and share it straight away." In particular "there are people who've been supporting me for 10 years or longer, and they can't afford to go to the games," Morehouse felt, and the app will make him feel like he's sharing the events with them.

When it launched, Burst released a study noting that 93.5% of respondees owned smartphones, and 80% of these shot and shared photos and videos. And 70% of respondees said they thought that video sharing was more important an activity this year than last. But 52% of mobile users were concerned about sharing photos and video on public or open platforms, and 73% of this group said that their concerns stopped them from sharing content with friends and family. Enough percentages for you!?

Given the explosion in smartphone use, and the rise in social medai, Burst would seem to have a big market waiting for it. The system works on iPhone and Android devices, and lets you automatically store content in the cloud, direct unlimited photos and videos in one go to multiple recipients (the "burst" mode) and to automatically title the content by checking your mobile calendars. Access control is enabled to create groups, adjust privacy settings and to add personal messages.

It's very much the opposite of the one-to-many model of Viddy and its ilk, being much more about one-to-select-few sharing, enabled by the adjustable privacy and groups systems. CEO and cofounder Bryant McBride--a 47-year-old dad and serial entrepreneur--tells Fast Company that the idea for Burst has been in the works for quite some time.

"It was really my mom's idea. I have three kids and I worked in pro sports for a long time and I'd send her tickets and T-shirts and hats and what-not and she said, 'Stop sending me that stuff, I just want videos of my grandkids.'"

Back then the technology to do this was manual time-consuming--using a camera, plugging it in, extracting the files, sending an email, and waiting.

But the advances in mobile tech enable a seamless, beautiful way for people to share video over mobile devices. Burst was created so that "as soon as you take a video of your son playing soccer or at a birthday party or picnic or whatever, as soon as you press stop it's saved to the cloud. So you have it safe, you know you've got it, and then with two taps you can share it. We default toward selective sharing, people can share on Facebook, and we will include other social networks, but we wanted the simplest, smartest most secure way to share the most important moments in our lives."

Burst currently operates on a free basis so they can build an audience. But Bryant McBride explained that there's definitely room for a premium model, with a low-price monthly fee that adds in extra functionality "that's really specially for the family" and friends of Burst users, along with a certain amount of physical prints of shared photos per month, to mail to family members for holiday gifts and so on. These additional premium services are still being worked out, although they may follow a Dropbox-like route with fees for sharing content above a certain amount. But McBride did illustrate a future cash donation service they plan, where, say, runners in a marathon can "burst" their run real-time and encourage supporters to donate money to charity with an in-app button.

[Image: Flickr user Marc Brubaker]

Chat about this news with Kit Eaton on Twitter and Fast Company too.

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