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Yahoo! blends WhatsApp & SnapChat in Livetext

Users can send a live video via text messaging.

By Alexander Sword

Yahoo! has launched an app for one-to-one live ‘video texting’ for iOS and Android.

The new service, Livetext, allows users to send a live video without audio via text messaging. The internet giant claims that it "blends the convenience and ease of texting with the immediacy and vividness of live video."

From today, the service is available in the App Store and Google Play Store in the US, the UK, Canada, Germany and France. This follows low-key launches in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Ireland.

"Every platform shift leads to new forms of communication, driven by our desire to connect and interact in richer ways," said Adam Cahan, Senior Vice President of Video, Design, and Emerging Products.

Cahan added: "We wanted to create a new way to communicate, blending the simplicity of texting with the emotion and immediacy of live video, to make your experience spontaneous and real."

Martin Garner, SVP at CCS Insight, argues that the offering aims to synthesise the strengths of other messenger services:

"LiveText sits somewhere between SnapChat, Skype and Periscope and is trying to open up a new mode of communicating between people. It offers the chance to do live video with messaging, when you cannot talk – this is not as universal as other forms of messaging, so the challenge for Yahoo will be to make it a first choice app for users.

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"The launch of LiveText feels like an initial phase of the project. If users like the concept they will ask for many further developments including group chats and live feeds stored on a central server.

"Yahoo’s new LiveText potentially plays to all four of the company’s key growth areas – Mobile, Video, Native advertising and Social (its so-called MaVeNS). These are the fastest growing areas of the company and now make up nearly 40% of the company’s revenue."

Yahoo! is entering an already saturated market, with Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger apps currently vying for top place. According to App Annie, at the time of writing WhatsApp is the most popular free app in the App Store in the UK, with Messenger following in second place. In the Google Play store, Messenger is the most popular free app.

WhatsApp was also recently found by an App Annie report to be the most popular Android app in both the UK and Germany in terms of sessions per active user.

Both WhatsApp and Messenger offer video calling services. However, the Yahoo offering is also taking on other offerings such as SnapChat, the app which allows users to exchange short videos which are automatically deleted.

Garner argues Livetext’s launch is driven by the large valuations currently seen in the mobile messaging sector.

"What it’s seen is WhatsApp being sold to Facebook for 19 billion and an opportunity to raise its share price."

It is currently unclear how much messaging apps can generate. While Facebook still does not release any revenue figures for its messaging apps, Garner expects them to be monetised soon.

"At their developer conference they started opening Messenger for commercial use. Companies can now post messages to you.

"Facebook has been very good at gradually commercialising, moving forward in a series of quite small steps."

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