Vodio’s iPhone App Brings Speedy Video Browsing to Smaller Screens

Tel Aviv-based Vodio today introduced its new iPhone app, a version of the startup’s social video browsing experience for iPad designed for Apple’s best-selling smartphone. The move reflects a growing trend from video startups looking to pay more attention to phone-based video viewers, as Showyou recently overhauled its own iPhone app.

Vodio, however, thinks it’s addressing device- and platform-specific needs that others aren’t necessarily touching. The Vodio experience, both on iPad and iPhone, is built around speed – swiping through the interface is quick, and videos and thumbnails load instantly and can be skipped with a simple gesture. According to Vodio CEO Jonathan Messika, that’s exactly what smartphone users in particular are looking for.

“We play really fast, we load the videos really fast,” he said in an interview. “We put in lots of effort to play the videos fast, because while it seems trivial it’s not. It’s frustrating when you’ve got everything where you want and then it takes seven to 10 seconds to load.”

Vodio is also trying to differentiate itself in terms of personalization. That’s a key distinction, because in terms of what mobile video viewers are looking for, it’s a way to digest bite-sized chunks of relevant content in spare moments; content has a higher drop-off rate in terms of engagement on mobile vs. on tablets. In order to make sure that content at the top of a user’s feeds is the best possible content for them, Vodio has introduced a new highlights channel that uses a combination of factors, including machine learning, to surface the best of all of a user’s individual category channels. That’s being released alongside the iPhone app, but it’s also coming to the existing Vodio iPad app, too.

All of Vodio’s channels, which can include categories like iPad app, tech and specific publications, are designed to be personalized on the fly, weighting factors like recency, as well as what you’ve skipped in the past, what videos you’ve watched to completion, and what you’ve shared.

“The most important thing is really personalization, because everyone’s into a lot of different stuff,” Messika explained. “With most of the other applications out there you can customize, so you can add a channel by, say, things that Mashable shared, but you don’t get our own [Vodio] curated channels and constant analytics to provide you with better videos.”

Vodio has accumulated two million video views, adding up to a quarter of a million hours on the iPad since launch in January, and has somewhere north of 240,000 users according to the company. Messika says that he hopes targeting the much larger iPhone audience will help Vodio jumpstart its user growth, and get the product out in front of a wider audience. With a host of competitors out there, including Shelby.tv which recently went back to the drawing board with a fresh $2.2 million in investment, it’s a smart strategy, especially since Vodio will need a significant user base once it starts exploring its revenue options.

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