CNN Brings In the Social App Beme to Cultivate a Millennial Audience

by: Mike Issac

on: NYT

Beme was intended to be a social sharing application that Mr. Neistat described as “more authentic,” a way of putting four-second bursts of video out into the social sphere without giving users the ability to edit or tweak the content. Taking video was as simple as holding a smartphone’s front-facing sensor to one’s body, as if the camera were an extension of one’s chest. …

“A huge part of my particular audience sees news and media as largely broken,” Mr. Neistat said in an interview. “My dad sees it as the word of God, but I think the young people definitely do not.”

This is entirely unsurprising. It’s even more unurprising after CNN acquired Andrew Kaczynski and his team from Buzzfeed News (another NYT link, sorry) to run their KFILE blog. CNN, gasping for air as cable declines in relevance, is buying up every bit of new media talent they can.

Related reading: Matt Hackett wrote on Medium about the acquisition.

So far as Beme itself:

Look at what Snapchat is doing right now and compare it to Beme.

Spectacles are the Beme concept realized. They provide a way to shoot video from a natural perspective without the distraction of a screen, and then share it in a mobile app.

In the same breath, think about how Leica can sell the M Typ262 camera (the one that doesn’t have an LCD screen). People have no self control. They expect, to some degree, objects to embody themselves. No one can not use a device with a screen without actually using (being completely consumed by) the screen.

Beme was the app equivalent of this. It was like putting gaffers tape over the LCD of your camera to force yourself not to chimp. Beme was contrarian, and honestly should be celebrated for being what it was, and trying to deny us the single thing that defines most phones: the screen.

But to that end, it makes Beme seem like more of an art project or specialty application than the mass market social network it seemed to aspire to be. It must have been incredibly hard to get people to engage with Beme (it sure was hard for me to really care about and use the app). But you have to commend them for doing what they did and getting as far as they did with it. While other apps have us staring into the screen to find our true selves (ahem, Snap’s face filters), Beme wanted us to look for truth around us with our own eyes. RIP Beme.