DabKick, a just-launched app for iPhone, allows users to view photos together while also communicating via real-time voice or text chat. The app requires only that the person initiating the conversation has any special software installed, allowing the other participant to easily jump into shared photo viewing via a browser. It’s an app that mixes a little bit of co-browsing and screensharing with some elements of Google Hangouts, but founder and CEO Balaji Krishnan thinks DabKick can provide something none of those antecedents have been able to offer far: truly enjoyable and painless remote collaborative media consumption.
DabKick may be starting with photos (taken from either the iPhone’s library or the web), but Krishnan told us in an interview that the vision for the app extends to virtually any kind of media, including videos, music and more. For Krishnan, who founded the company based around the idea that it should be easier for him to easily share photos from his phone with his wife and talk to her while viewing them together, not having a single place to accomplish both communication and shared consumption experiences simply doesn’t make sense anymore.
“We do a lot of things together, like watching a movie together, listening to music together, and browsing photos together,” he said. “So there is lots of media which in my opinion is completely missing from communication. If you think about real-time communication, it’s all about VOIP or messaging; these are the two big areas people have been focusing on, or there are standalone media apps, like video apps or photo apps, where you actually have people sharing content all the time thanks to social networks like Facebook and Twitter.” While there has been a lot of attention paid these areas separately, Krishnan believes the time has come for them to be addressed together.
And to some extent, that’s already what some other players are doing. Google Hangouts, for instance, provide a collaborative video viewing experience, and is gearing up to expand into many more areas via the many developer uses of the Hangouts API. And Sidecar, a startup BetaKit covered recently, also aims to connect people for shared browsing and video experiences, combined with a real-time communication element.
Where DabKick differs is in prioritizing the shared media experience, Krishnan says, making it the central focus of the app instead of an add-on feature for voice or video chat. Also, DabKick only requires that one side of the equation actually have the app. According to Krishnan, eventually the goal is to have the app configured so that anyone can share their media with anyone on any platform, without having to worry about compatibility or adding on additional software.
This isn’t the first time a company has tried to create a co-viewing experience aimed at the consumer market. SeeToo was one example from way back in 2008, for example, and has since disappeared. But Krishnan says that what’s possible now just wasn’t possible three years ago in this space, due in large part to the advent and popularity of much better mobile tech in the form of smartphones, which are virtually everywhere in developed markets these days.
The startup has initial funding from GREE, one of the largest social gaming networks in the world, which is an interesting fit for what DabKick is hoping to provide. Whether the app can catch on will largely depend on how much of an appetite there is for shared media experiences among the general public, and the app’s usage should be a big indication.