Stellar Startup: Turn your phone into a cyber-party

For entertainment value, nothing beats a good "video clip" session with the best clips downloaded and passed on between users via e-mail or P2P programs like Limewire, eMule, etc.

By DAVID SHAMAH
December 2, 2007 10:17
4 minute read.
Stellar Startup: Turn your phone into a cyber-party

ear phones 88. (photo credit: )

 
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TV and radio are all nice - but everyone knows that for real entertainment, you have to go into the "Youtube zone" - that place in cyberspace where you find dumb people doing even dumber things, all day, every day. For entertainment value, nothing beats a good Internet "video clip" session with the best clips downloaded and passed on between users via e-mail or P2P programs like Limewire, eMule, etc. The problem, of course, is that unless you are a teenager flunking out of school, with nothing but time on your hands, you almost never have a chance to "get into" watching video. There's work, of course, and bosses tend to look askance at clip viewing. And there's too much to do at home - so there's no time to kick back and enjoy clips. Ah, the problems of modern life! Luckily, there's Peerbox (http://www.peerboxmobile.com), a service created by Israeli startup Nareos (http://www.nareos.com/), solves the problem by letting you check out clips, video, music, or any other stuff your buddies send you - on your cellphone! This way, you can get your fix while you're commuting, standing in line at the bank, or otherwise engaged. It's the best of both worlds you get to preserve your work life (by not getting fired for wasting time at work) and still have a cyber social-life! It's a revolutionary idea, and so far, more than 150,000 people have signed up for the service, says Alexander Zaidelson, co-founder and VP Business Development of Nareos. "We've got users in 178 countries," he says, "all of whom can connect with each other and experience the best of the Web - video, audio, games, and social networking." Nareos' Peerbox began life as a platform to legally download copyrighted content on mobile phones - the first, and so far most successful. Nowadays, Peerbox chiefly appeals to a young, hip crowd the between 18 and 25 population group. Growing Internet applications seek out, for their tech savvy and willingness to embrace new online services. Sharing takes place on two tracks - privately, as a personal P2P exchange with people in your network, and publicly, where you can download content provided by other users for free or by the service for a fee. Nareos has partnered with a number of Web services - most recently Metacafe, another Israeli startup that supplies video content, attracting over 27 million unique users each month. "By providing instant access from the mobile phone to the millions of videos available on Metacafe, one of the world's largest video entertainment sites, PeerBox Mobile strengthens its position as the leading content-rich mobile social network service," said Zaidelson. "This partnership with Metacafe positions us at the forefront of the mobile user generated content revolution." Nareos has also worked out a number of partnership deals with cellphone service providers, most notably in the Far East. Right now, the company is actively seeking out partnerships in Europe. "We believe we will be able to achieve a level of 150m. users on the Peerbox platform," Zaidelson added. But Peerbox is about the music, too. As cell phone devices become more sophisticated - including functions that until now required a host of devices to utilize - users are increasingly flocking to Peerbox because of its ability to deliver those services to what is evolving into a single "converged" device - a cellphone based device that incorporates the connectivity of the Internet (did anyone say iPhone?). Speaking of iPhones, Zaidelson said that Nareos was examining the possibility of developing a version of its platform for the Apple device, which had taken the communications world by storm. Early next year, Apple plans to open up the iPhone platform to developers, "and we are considering entering that area as well." But with most of the world's cellphone devices relying on Java and with every indication that the biggest names in the business, like Nokia, Samsung, and Sony-Ericsson plan to continue churning out newer, more sophisticated devices based on the Java platform, users will find Peerbox ready and waiting for them. What is perhaps most unique about Peerbox, however, is the speed with which it can deliver rich content to users. "We have a very strong back-end server system that allows us to stream content very quickly, ensuring maximum usability for the customer," said Zaidelson. Also unique is the Nareos development of separate native versions of Peerbox - as opposed to a ported version - for both Java and Symbian based phones - ensuring that the application is maximally "tweaked" to take advantage of either platform. Currently, the application's main emphasis has been on user-generated content; users download the application to their device for free, and can immediately start browsing the site's library of clips, video and audio. Any clip in the Peerbox library conforms with digital copyright law. The idea is to see how creative users in the network can be. To that end, Peerbox recently ran a campaign called "PeerBox Stars," a competition geared to encouraging users to submit their best and brightest work letting other users vote on their favorites in 10 different categories (Animation, Arts, Cars, Comedy, Computers, Games, Music, Nature, Pets, Sports) through the simple push of a button on the PeerBox screen. And don't worry about offensive content. Peerbox has sophisticated filters built in, ensuring that you don't have to look at what you don't want to. That's the kind of social networking Zaidelson likes to see, he says. Nareos is also seeking deals to allow users to view more extensive copyrighted video clips - half hour episodes of TV shows, MTV-style music videos, movie previews, etc. - with applicable advertising deals to allow users as much free access to the material as possible. But it will always be about the user. And who knows? With sophisticated cell phones quickly becoming the only device you need, Peerbox could one day beat even Youtube at its own game! startup@newzgeek.com

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