Bebo kickstarts revival with 'Blab' video messaging service
Bebo is kickstarting its revival with the launch of a new video chat app called Blab, which allows users to send instant video messages to anyone, for free.
Bebo was once the most popular social networking site in the UK, boasting 10.7 million unique users. The site was purchased by AOL in March 2008 for $850 million.
However, within a couple of years it had wilted under the challenge from rivals Facebook and Twitter, and founder Michael Birch ended up buying back the company for a mere $1m in 2013.
In a spoof corporate video released on Bebo's website in August, Birch announced that he wanted to "wipe the slate clean", promising that "the new Bebo will be very different from the old one".
Now Bebo has revealed Blab, the first of 3 apps the company plans to release this year. Shaan Puri, CEO of Monkey Inferno, the tech incubator behind the revival of Bebo, said that each of these apps carries the common trait of being simple, and fun to use with friends.
Like Snapchat, Blab lets users record video by holding down a button on their smartphone screen. They can then send the video to anyone by simply releasing the button.
The recipient can view the video in the same manner, by holding down on the screen to view and releasing to end. Once viewed, the message will be removed from the app and the phone.
"Of course, we understand that sometimes people make mistakes when they send a video (saying the wrong thing, or choosing the wrong person), so we made an even simpler way to cancel the video," said Puri.
"All you have to do is 'shake-to-destroy', which means you can shake your phone within 5 seconds of sending a video, and it will cancel sending the video."
Users of Blab can even send videos to people who don't have the app. The videos will be sent via SMS instead, and recipients can reply with a video of their own.
"Rather than come back as a clunky social network, full of complicated features, we wanted to make an app that was simpler, doing one cool thing really really well," said Puri.
"While there are many apps on the phone, the killer app is still communication and messaging. For the first time, we've made video messaging incredibly user friendly. People are saying it's like being able to do Facetime, but on your own time."
The app will be available on iOS starting in March, with an Android verison to follow soon after. Priority will be given to the 650,000 people on the Bebo.com waiting list.