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Meerkat could be on to a real winner with its new video chat app Houseparty

A wise woman once said: “If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.” It seems former tech media darling Meerkat has heeded Aaliyah’s advice, bouncing back with a new app after losing the live-streaming battle to Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook Live.

Instead of resigning itself to its fate, Life on Air (the company behind Meerkat) has spent the past 10 months secretly developing a new video-oriented app, and it appears to have also built a sizable audience along the way.

Its latest offering is Houseparty, a video chat app that ditches public broadcasts for private group chats. Houseparty allows users to create and join groups (referred to as “rooms”) with up to eight participants at a time. You can switch between an unlimited number of rooms by simply swiping across the screen.

Despite reports emerging in March that Meerkat itself would be rebranded as a video social network, Houseparty is a standalone app. Meerkat is still up and running, with Life on Air previously claiming it continues to attract a notable audience, but it is losing creators to its heavyweight rivals. That’s been the case since Twitter snapped up fellow live video app Periscope shortly after witnessing the buzz surrounding Meerkat at SXSW last year. Facebook soon followed suit with its own mobile live-streaming offering in the shape of Facebook Live. The rest as they say is history.

The emergence of Houseparty gives its parent company a new lease on life. The media spotlight that hyped up Meerkat has deliberately been avoided this time around, with Life on Air developing the app under a pseudonym, reports The Verge.

You’d think a lack of publicity would work against Houseparty, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, thanks to an acute sense of its target demographic. The new app has taken the organic route adopted by the likes of Snapchat and Down to Lunch, offering little info as to how to navigate its product, and marketing it toward college students. A quick glance at its website shows that it even has a merchandise section stocked with items aimed at younger users, including a sweatshirt scrawled with the millennial slang term “thirsty,” and a t-shirt emblazoned with styrofoam cups. As a result, Houseparty has garnered 1 million users in less than a year.

If it can convert its initial success into a sustainable social platform and build upon its current user numbers, then this could turn out to be a comeback story for the ages. Houseparty is available now for iOS and Android.