One established SplashCast competitor, BrightCove, allows users to create players that show multiple videos. But BrightCove’s system is designed for professional media producers, and it can’t automatically push new content to players. Berkley and his colleagues also have plenty of other company in the video-sharing category, including several startups that debuted alongside SplashCast at DEMO 07. There’s Mixpo, which helps artists and musicians create video postcards that they can embed in their blogs or social-network profile pages; Panjea, where content creators can upload their video, photo, and music files and either sell them outright or keep a share of the site’s advertising revenue whenever visitors view them online; and Eyejot, where webcam owners can record short video messages and attach them to e-mails.
But while SplashCast is not completely unique, it may have a better-than-average shot at winning the startup lottery. That’s partly thanks to the simplicity of SplashCast’s publishing tools. Content on SplashCast is organized into shows, which are added to channels, which are assigned to players, which can be syndicated on any website. All you need to do to build a show is upload media files, type in text entries (which can be as short as PowerPoint slides or as long as blog posts), or point to files already stored on YouTube, Flickr, or elsewhere on the Web. If you’ve already set up RSS feeds for your Flickr or YouTube accounts, you can drop the URLs for these feeds directly into SplashCast’s show-building console. Then any files added to your Flickr or YouTube pages automatically show up in the corresponding SplashCast show.
To get your new show out to viewers, you add it to one of your personal SplashCast channels and create a player that will show this channel. SplashCast generates HTML code that can be copied and pasted into your blog page or social-networking profile. The next time someone visits the page, this code instructs his or her Web browser to download the player and the latest channel content.
The production process could hardly be faster: in about 10 minutes, I was able to place some nature photos that I had already uploaded to Flickr into a SplashCast slide show and place a player in my personal blog, which I invite you to visit.
But here’s the really cool part: if you happen to like my slide show and you want to see the new photos that I add to it in the future, you don’t have to come back to my blog to do it. You can simply go to the “Menu” button inside the SplashCast player and select “Subscribe to this channel.” You’ll be asked to log in to SplashCast–you’ll have to create an account if you don’t have one already–and the player will then send you a few lines of HTML code, which you can paste into your own blog or personal start page (such as the free, customizable start pages available at PageFlakes.com). Every time you start the player, it will grab my latest photos, as if your page were a virtual digital photo frame. (For more on the coming crop of real digital photo frames, look for my February 16 column.)