Net-repreneurs Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning — best known as the kids who invented Napster in the ’90s — revealed their latest creation on June 5, a Facebook app cum video social network called Airtime. In a technical-gaffe-laden media launch event in New York, a string of celebrities (Olivia Munn, Joel McHale, Julia-Louis Dreyfus, Ed Helms, Jim Carrey, among others) played along as video chats failed, PCs rebooted, and an exasperated Parker shook his head — as any vet of tech launches knows, these things happen to the best of them.
After an extended intro from Jimmy Fallon, Parker took the mic and presented a compelling — if business pitch-like — slideshow stack, explaining the inspiration and rationale for their new product. Available now, Airtime is video chat built into Facebook that allows you to click on any of your connected friends from a list at the side of the screen and chat with them via web browser, with no extra software to install. While you are chatting, you can browse, share, or take items from”interests” fields, as well as videos you have “liked” and similar items from your profile (crucially, not music, though surely that’s not far off). The idea, Parker stressed, is that you’re experiencing shared content together at the same time, rather than most social network activities like commenting on posts or playing games, where the interaction is delayed as someone posts something and everyone else consumes it later.