There are plenty of video sharing services online these days -- from the enormously popular YouTube to Apple's own video integration with Twitter, it's quite easy for almost anyone to upload and share video with the public. But Givit's CEO Greg Kostello, who previously worked for both Apple and NeXT, has a different goal in mind: He wants to take on video sharing in the private arena. Givit, as we saw at CES this week, isn't about uploading a video from your iPhone or iPad for the world to see. Rather, it's about uploading a video, and then sending it out to a limited list of your friends, family, acquaintances or co-workers, for only them to see and respond to.
On first glance, the app is almost just a messaging service, and in fact, Kostello showed me an example video where he asked his team a question, and each of them were able to respond to the video from their own place and time. The biggest benefit of Givit appears to be that it's easy to share and interact with a video once it's uploaded, and Kostello points out that the company is really trying to have a universal experience -- whether you're on any iOS device, a PC or a Mac, or any Android device or other tablet (the company is introducing an Android app here at CES this week), you can hit the Givit site or download an app and use the service easily.
The iOS version even integrates with your address book (though there's no iCloud integration -- yet, says Kostello), so once you've got a video in the system, sharing it with your friends and family in a secure way is as easy as just choosing their names from a list and hitting go. Even if they don't use Givit, they'll get an email saying there's a video waiting for them, and they'll just need to hit a link to open up a browser and see it.
Unfortunately, there is one big hitch: Users who see your shared videos will need to register with Givit. Kostello says this is more of a security concern than anything else -- you can't truly share private videos unless you know who's watching, so if you send a nice birthday video off to your aunt, she'll have to sign up for the Givit service before she can actually see it. It's not like YouTube, where there's just a URL that's obscured from the public. Here you're more aware of who has seen your video, and they must go through a quick registration to ensure only they can see it.
But once users are registered, they can see any videos that have been shared with them, and even respond to those videos with text comments or even video replies. Kostello says that while his company can't see what the videos are that are uploaded (they are private, after all), they're noting that about half of them are recorded with a mobile and/or iOS device, and about half come from PC video files, which means they were either taken with a webcam directly, or edited and then uploaded.
Anecdotally, Kostello says just simple video blogs are a big part of the service, as videos of users kids' playing sports, then shared with family and friends. He's seen businesses (including his own) use the service as well, and he even tells one story of a military family with a brother serving in Qatar, who used the service to send video both to and from the soldier away from home. Skype, says Kostello, often means you need to be in both places in the world at the same time, but a service like Givit means families can see and respond to shared videos on their own time.
Currently, Givit is free to use, but in the next month or so, Kostello says they'll announce plans for monetizing it. He says ads probably aren't a part of the equation, since all of the shared videos are still users viewing their own content, but instead Givit will likely charge for premium services, like more room to save videos, and possibly other features. There will always be a free service there, says Kostello, similar to Dropbox, but heavy users will be asked to pay.
Givit seems like an interesting solution to the issue of sharing videos privately with a smaller group. There are services out there that will do this already, but many of those make it hard to specify exactly who can see the video, and ensure that's what happens. Once it's set up, Givit's a quick and easy way to post a video, and make sure that only the people you want to see it can do so.