Kwicr Unveils Its Mobile Delivery Network
Burlington, Mass. backed Kwicr, a company funded by Sigma Prime and Venrock with funding of $11.5M, unveiled earlier this week their Mobile Delivery Network. Founded three years ago, the 35-employee firm says it is working with more than 80 mobile apps, including those of some well-known media companies, carriers, development houses and enterprises.
Kwicr’s departure from stealth mode is yet another indication that demand for protocol manipulation technologies that impact the quality of delivery for streaming content is heating up. Two weeks ago, Twin Prime announced its launch and the completion of its initial $9.5M funding round and other companies are soon to follow.
Certainly the timing makes sense. Mobile broadband performance is a problem, with poor quality delivery being the key reason consumers give up on apps and streaming content. As I wrote last week, a recent consumer survey from Conviva noted that 29% of viewers will close a video and try a different app or platform when they encounter a poor experience. And 75% abandon the app in four minutes or less.
In reality though, the issues content owners face today are just the tip of the iceberg. Demand for streaming content of course is increasing and the problem, both as it relates to delivery quality and the resulting user experience, will only get worse. Just last week Facebook unveiled new video features which if successful, and there’s a good chance they will be, will see a rapid increase in the volume of streaming video shared by Facebook’s users. That alone may present issues for some mobile networks already struggling to keep up.
Kwicr stresses that its mobile delivery network is complementary to existing CDNs, addressing mobile broadband performance from where the content is served to the mobile device. In essence, Kwicr aims to do for the last mile what firms like Akamai, Limelight and others do for the Internet backbone. From a high-level, here’s how Kwicr’s technology works.
Mobile app owners and developers integrate Kwicr’s SDK with their app, a process that takes minimal coding and which enables the app to utilize the company’s technology, which it describes as Dynamic Packet Recovery and Intelligent Rate Control Technology. Customers access the technology through the corresponding mobile delivery network which is delivered via a cloud-based service.
The Kwicr functionality, which increases the performance of any mobile app, and therefore the streaming content that is delivered through them, works on any 3G, LTE or Wi-Fi network as well as any Android or iOS device. App owners can monitor the performance of their apps via a dashboard and turn on Kwicr when needed, or set it to turn on automatically when the mobile network’s performance degrades to a set level or, for example, when usages rates for the app are particularly high.
Kwicr uses a protocol solution that adapts to changing network conditions, something that happens often as power levels change from cell towers or Wi-Fi, additional users join and leave a node, and different applications place varying demand on the network. Data from testing they did for a customer showed that available bandwidth varied an average of 239% during 10 minute sessions.
With network conditions constantly changing on a millisecond basis, static profiles are of limited value. Kwicr’s solution dynamically adapts to these rapidly changing conditions by measuring the available bandwidth and adjusting the rate of transmission accordingly. In addition, their protocol has built-in redundancy to recover lost packets without the need for retransmission. The real impact is that the user sees much higher performance (higher video resolution and less buffering), which allows the app owner to better monetize their content. Because the Kwicr technology is built into the app, they monitor all traffic, whether accelerated or not. By providing this analytic data to their customers, they can set policy based on their business goals.
Kwicr says the resulting performance gains are significant and apply not only to streaming video and audio, but content loads of all kinds. In a recent test over five days, Kwicr did a side-by-side comparison of a national sports media outlet’s video player, with what they say are impressive results. During the test and in the same elapsed time as a control where Kwicr was not deployed, the company delivered a 30% improvement in throughput on average, with some devices seeing an uplift of more than 180%. Kwicr also accelerated the download time, gaining a 30% advantage and delivered a 10x improvement in the reduction of severe video stalls. During the test users were also 4k ready 39% of the time when Kwicr was on, versus 19% of the time when it was not. All of the test results reflect performance on the same network and devices. (Note: Kwicr plans to make this testing data available in the next few days)
Beyond the acceleration Kwicr delivers via its over-the-top model, it also enables app owners to gather detailed data on app traffic, making it possible to look in detail at app performance, and streaming media usage. Both are of value when determining how to best address consumers’ preferences for streaming content. Kwicr says pricing for their mobile delivery network is based on accelerated traffic and starts at $500 per month. Kwicr is also offering a complimentary 45-day trial in which app owners and developers can try them, analyze the results, and see the performance increase in content delivery first hand.
Kwicr will be presenting a talk on “The Impact of Mobile Broadband on Mobile Video” at the Content Delivery Summit, on Monday May 11th in NYC. Use discount code DR100 and get a pass for only $395.