Quibi Officially Launches — But Is There a Market for Mobile-Only Videos?

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Photo Credit: Quibi

Quibi is a short-form video app launching on iOS and Android today.

A star-studded launch party for the new app was canceled because of coronavirus. But the app’s launch marches on. Quibi is backed by billionaire Jeffrey Katzenberg and tech executive Meg Whitman, both of whom were determined to get things off the ground. All original programming on the app is designed with the size of a smartphone screen in mind.

Quibi is launching with a $4.99 ad-supported version and a $7.99 ad-free version.  All shows premiering on Quibi are 10 minutes or less – designed to be consumed while commuting. The phone app is the only way to experience these shows. There’s no TV app, no web version, no Chromecast or AirPlay support to be seen.

Videos themselves are designed to support both landscape and portrait orientations. You’ll see different angles or shots depending on how you hold the device. Text and credits also accommodate these switches, which Quibi calls ‘turnstyle.’

Katzenberg says Quibi’s unique turnstyle approach is ushering in a “third generation of film narrative.”

The technical details for how the app works are interesting, too. Watching a show means receiving two video streams simultaneously, which are stitched together accompanied by a single audio track. Whichever stream isn’t the main focus is delivered at a lower resolution. There’s no pause, buffering, or video quality degradation when switching between the two streams.

It’s an interesting approach to content creation, but just how viable is it for the music industry?

The turnstyle effect could provide some interesting perspectives for music videos – but music content is light at launch. The &Music series focuses on artists who make music videos possible. Choreographers, video directors, and stage designers all give their takes on contributions to headliner events.

The quality of the experience depends mainly on the quality and size of the phone display. Larger phones may provide a better viewing experience, compared to someone with a smaller device.