Friday, January 4, 2013
How Frequency Wants To Bring You Internet Video, with Blair Harrison
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
Just before the holidays, we caught up with Blair Harrison, founder of Frequency (www.frequency.com), a personal video service which lets consumers watch video from the Internet on any of their devices. Harrison created one of the Internet's first video search sites, FastTV, and also ran IFILM, which he sold to Viacom in 2006. We caught up with Blair to learn more about his new startup, and why he thinks we need Frequency.
What is Frequency?
Blair Harrison: Frequency is an Internet video service. We connect consumers to great content from around the Internet, from social networks, from thousands of branded video channels, and around any particular topic they're interested in. We gather all of this video for them, and organize it into a very simple experience which they can watch on any device. We have a browser-based product, and an iPad app that's gotten an enormous amount of critical acclaim and user adoption. We've also developed a version in partnership with Samsung for their connected TVs and video players, and recently released an iPhone version. We also have a bunch of other versions in development, which will be integrated into videogame consoles, into other connected televisions, tablets, smartphones, and so forth. Our goal and promise to consumers is to let them stay connected to all of the video they care about online, regardless of where it comes from, on any device. We hope to be on every single platform, over time.
There are lots of apps out there for viewing video, what's different about Frequency?
Blair Harrison: Frequency was borne out of a frustration of mine, which is having to visit many different places to consume video, from a combination of social networks, to blogs, to apps. That was cumbersome enough to experience in just the browser a few years ago, and now that everyone has a smartphone, tablet, and connected TV, it's even more cumbersome to get your video in one place. That's the problem we set out to solve. We gather all of your videos, make sense of it, organize it into channels, and then let you watch it on any device you own, seamlessly and painlessly switching from one device to another. You can put it in your pocket, watch it on your tablet, turn to your television, and it's all a continuous experience. We're getting more video, from more places, more quickly than any other video aggregation service out there. We were the first doing that, and we're the biggest and best. To give you an idea, we're indexing over half a billion social posts every day, and over 5 million new videos every single day.
How did you get from iFilm to Frequency?
Blair Harrison: I sold iFilm to Viacom at the end of 2005, and got out of there at the beginning of 2008. I took a little bit of time off, then started working on Frequency in the middle of 2009. We got the core iFilm engineering team in late 2010, and spent about a year and a half building out our platform, and released our first consumer product at the beginning of 2012.
You helped define video on the web with iFilm. What's different now, and how has the world changed?
Blair Harrison: I think the most important thing at the moment, is the end screen experience is one of the most important thing. Being social connected and socially aware is another, and being comprehensive is a third. We touch on all three. We've also come to expect that the services we've used forever, such as calendars, email, and other apps, should be available everywhere. In terms of Internet video, that hasn't existed, to date. We're really blazing a trail in that regard. For example, Frequency is connected into people's online presence, through Facebook, Twitter, and their YouTube account. Everything happening there is also part of the Frequency experience. If my mom shares a video of my niece in England on Facebook, that will show up on my Frequency experience. The same with the latest video from TechCrunch or some pop star or fan that I follow. In the same way, the things I do on Frequency are reflected back on my social network, the things that I watch, what channels I tune into, the people I connect with.
Finally, what's next for you?
We're delivering a much broader set of products, integrated more and deeply into existing services and devices that people are using to consume video. Television is still, by far, the most dominant source of video consumption, yet most of the existing guides and services that people use to consume video either have none, or very limited interfaces to online video. We believe we are a fabulous complimentary experience to people watching traditional television and video, and augmenting it with all of the riches of the Internet, that they care about, and doing that in a unified, consistent way. What we'll be announcing next is deep integration into the services that you and I and everyone already uses to consume video via television. It's all about getting deeper into the fabric of people's existing lives, and getting to more devices.