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Twitter likes the Periscope view

Twitter (TWTR) wants you to watch more video on your phone.

Various reports say the social media giant has bought Periscope, a startup that is developing an app to stream video on smartphones. The Wall Street Journal says Twitter paid just south of $100 million, which would be one of the company’s biggest-ever purchases.

Yahoo Finance Senior Columnist Michael Santoli says finding new ways to get people to view video on mobile devices has become a key area for social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook (FB).

“It’s terribly important,” he notes. “I think everyone acknowledges that. That is why Twitter is experimenting along multiple fronts on video.”

Santoli points out Twitter and its competitors are scrambling to react to a changing marketplace.

“It surprised a lot of people just how willing everyone has been to watch video on their phone,” he adds. “It’s something Snapchat has had amazing success with that. Snapchat says some 70% plus people who click on a Snapchat video watch it to completion. That’s kind of unheard of when you look at shared videos.”

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Santoli doesn’t believe Periscope will impact Twitter’s current video site, Vine.

“Vine is very short videos basically one little scene, it’s kind of an offshoot of YouTube (GOOGL),” he says. “This would seemingly be more about some sort of live streaming-- whether it’s an event or somebody live streaming something they are doing themselves. I don’t know how it’s going to fit in but I think the main takeaway for Twitter is they are trying all these different things.”

Santoli believes the purchase of Periscope is another example of how social media firms feel a need to give users more than what they offer now.

“It shows you the priorities of companies like Twitter not to be just a one-to-many messenger service or even a media-consumption tool but something that’s a little bit more immersive and something that sort of catches people as an entertainment medium as well,” he says.

But as Santoli notes, it’s not easy for companies to stay ahead of the technology these days.

“The reports about this deal said since this deal was done a month ago, there’s been this new thing that’s popped up called ‘Meerkat’ that everybody’s obsessed over, he points out. “So it’s very, very hard to figure out what is the next thing to take off.