UK-based, 14-month-old startup Six3 wants to shake up the messaging platform by adding video the mix, and with a backer like Telefonica, the largest telecommunications companies in the world, it might just be able to. There isn’t a direct competitor with any existing mobile app out there, so Six3 describes itself as a hybrid between Whatsapp and Viddy and hopes to be a game changer that opens up a market of users communicating strictly through short video messages.
There are undoubtedly countless messaging and video sharing apps out there, and Six3’s CEO and co-founder Tim Grimsditch categorizes them into three buckets. First there are one-to-one video chatting services, but Grimsditch says that the growth for those companies is slow since users “tend to stick to very tight circles using that service.”
In bucket two are the Instagram-for-video apps. The most well known in this market are services like Viddy or Mobli. Those apps, however, are about producing quality content. Six3 is about bite-sized messages and quick communication.
The third bucket is filled by the all-in-one communication services like Whatsapp and Skype. These apps tend to “focus all of their energy behind a piece of their service that they’re famous for,” says Grimsditch. The video part of a messaging service like Whatsapp, he explains, is weak. “We’re a tiny team with small resources, yet our video messages are twice as fast as Whatsapp.”
Internationally, particularly in Asia, there’s been a lot of experimentation with new types of chat apps — a popular one being WeChat. Its users are so accustomed to its unique voice messaging feature that I was told few WeChat users in China even send text messages anymore. Six3 wants to do something similar by targeting an untapped niche. “[We’re] a platform to communicate with video messages in a way that’s easy, mobile, lets people decide on private or public messaging, and lets people use it within their existing network,” says Grimsditch.
Using the app is as simple. You can select a colored filter, record your video for a maximum of 63 seconds (which is where Six3’s name comes from), select the video’s recipients (via email, address book contacts, Twitter, Facebook, or other Six3 users), and press “Send.”
To take social a step further, Six3 announced a deeper Facebook integration yesterday at the Dublin Web Summit’s START conference, where the company was recognized as one of the “world’s 100 most promising early stage startups.” The update adds the ability for users to send private Six3 video messages to individual Facebook friends or share them publicly to your Facebook Timeline, while offering a faster and more seamless user experience. “It makes it incredibly easy to create good looking 63 second long video, share it through Six3, Twitter or Facebook, and respond to the video,” explains Grimditch.
The app will remain free for as long as it exists and you can find it in the App Store (the Android version is in the works), but Six3 will be experimenting with a few revenue models. The ones that Grimsditch was comfortable describing include charging users to archive messages for those important clips that you might have an emotional attachment to as well as the possibility of selling premium options like color filters or other visual effects as in-app purchases.
To many developers’ benefit, smartphone owners aren’t particularly app-loyal. Grimsditch is well aware of this and hopes to jostle competitors and become not jut a trend, but a staple app in the sea of 700 million smartphones. “The reality is that we’re just getting started and the dust isn’t going to settle in this market for years and years. So I think you’re going to see many years of explosive innovation, and we’re absolutely planning to be at the forefront of that.”