Airtime has critics wondering if its star will fade quickly
Airtime is a live video chat website, where users can chat with friends or random strangers. The service runs through Facebook, so Airtime users have to login with their Facebook credentials.
Parker and Fanning envision a service that connects users based on common interests, which are sourced from users' Facebook profiles.
"There's no serendipity," Parker said at the Airtime launch on Tuesday. "Everything now is filtered through the social graph. We have the ability to share media faster than ever before. But the social network is somewhat constraining. It is become an increasingly public forum. You're doing everything in front of your friends and that's limiting."
Critics have already weighed in, comparing the site to the controversial website Chatroulette, and wondering if it can be a lasting product.
"As near as I can tell, Airtime isn't very different from Chatroulette, the service founded by teenage Russian entrepreneur Andrey Ternovskiy. After a massive spike in interest in 2010, Chatroulette just as quickly fell out of favor," CNET senior writer Greg Sandoval pointed out.
Airtime is also entering a market already filled with industry giants. Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft's Skype all have strong footholds in the video chat space. Facebook, Apple and Google have built-in users, who can use video chat on a whim. Skype has been around long enough to have a loyal user base.
Critics are also questioning the stability of the technology. At the star-studded launch event, the Airtime experienced several glitches.
"Glitch after glitch marred Airtime's first public showing, leaving the event's collection of celebrities riffing and improvising onstage while engineers tried to fix the bugs and revive dropped connections," CNNMoney reporter Laurie Segal said of the launch event.
"I suspect Airtime will follow the same trajectory as Chatroulette - it may burn brightly for a while, then fade as the novelty gives way to the reality that random video chats are, well, kinda random," wrote Houston Chronicle editor Dwight Silverman.
Even so, the celebrity endorsements and industry buzz over the Napster co-founders reuniting for a new project have managed to pique people's interest in the new service.
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