Zoobe (inaccessible video messaging app/website; 2011-2017)

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ZoobeCam.png

The original icon for the app.

Status: Lost

Zoobe was a video messaging platform created by Zoobe Message Entertainment GmbH, founded by German filmmaker/animator Lenard Fritz Krawinkel. The platform had a web-based and iOS/Android version and was available from October 2011 to April 2017.

In 2015, Zoobe gained meme status, mostly by users of Tumblr who would use the app to send absurdly personal or humorous stories. Most notable are the videos made by blogger Kylee Henke, whose compilation of Zoobe videos garnered almost a million views on YouTube. Zoobe also had a great following in countries like Russia. In 2016, more than 200 million messages were made using the platform.[1]

Functionality

How the main menu for Zoobe looked like.

Zoobe allowed the user to record > 30-second long voice messages, which would then be dictated by a 3D-animated character. Zoobe had great attention to detail, making the character move their lips in sync and react accordingly as the tone of the message changed. Users could then share their creations either on their Zoobe account or other social media.

Zoobe had a wide variety of characters to choose from, ranging from originals like the infamous bunny character Luna or the pig Schnitzel, characters from licensed properties like Pac-Man, The Smurfs, Cut the Rope or Ice Age, to real-life celebrities like Donald Trump or Amber Rose.[2]

History

Despite Zoobe's previously massive popularity, there isn't a lot of background info about the platform online, outside of mostly an outdated Know Your Meme page and a few news articles.

Zoobe's website, zoobe.com, was first archived on April 2009 (though the URL was used in 2002-2005 for some kind of spam site). According to the copyright text, the Zoobe GmbH company existed since 2008.[3] This version of the site is bare and it doesn't appear like an actual product was available until October 2011, when the Zoobe Beta was launched.[4] Zoobe was purely web/Facebook-based around this time,[5] until November 15th, 2012, when the Zoobe Cam app was released on the App Store.[6]

Shortly after the release, the app got split into two versions with different characters, Zoobe Cam Pets and Zoobe Cam Eve. Pets had the animal characters and was meant to be the kid-friendly version, meanwhile Eve included the humanoid characters Adam & Eve and was meant to be the more mature version.[7] The two apps eventually ditched the "Cam" part of their names, and then merged into one.[8]

Zoobe GmbH also released another app called StoryGIF in 2016.[9] This app allowed you to sew together up to 10 GIF files into a single one, and launched with Mr. Men & Little Miss and Hello Kitty-branded GIFs as a partnership with Sanrio. Multiple versions of this were released, including one with Zoobe's signature bunny character, Luna.

Everything took an end though on April 2017, when Zoobe GmbH unexpectedly closed operations.[10][11][12] The app's servers shut down, most of Zoobe's social media accounts got deleted, and zoobe.com's main page was replaced with a "Thank you!" message.[13] The reason for the shutdown is unknown, but it could be assumed that the platform got too costly to run, especially with all the licensed properties involved.

Availability

The Android version's .apk file can be easily found on re-host sites. However, in an attempt to open the app nowadays, it will freeze on the loading screen for a bit before a "Slow connection" error pops up. It is currently unknown whether the app is able to be restored, although it is unlikely, considering most of the app was probably server-side.

Gallery

A couple of Zoobe videos made by Kylee Henke.
2012 German interview with Lenard F. Krawinkel about Zoobe.
A playblast render of the Adam & Eve characters, uploaded by the person who animated them.
A video showing how to use Zoobe.

External Links

References