Location-Based Social App Competition Heats Up With Latitude

May 7th, 2010 |

The location-based, geo-tagging competition is getting hotter. Amid rumors of an impending purchase, upstart startup Foursquare announced they’d passed the million-user mark in late April. It’s a growth rate not seen since Twitter skyrocketed to prominent use, making Foursquare one of the hottest web properties around. At the end of last year, Foursquare’s users stood at 170,000.

Likewise, Foursquare competitor Booyah’s MyTown, has also experienced phenomenal growth, announcing two days ago they’d eclipsed the two million-user plateau.

Both of the companies are based on the wireless market, allowing those “playing” to check-in from various locations, while also having the ability to check on your friends. While the two companies are true competitors, there are fundamental differences in the way they work. MyTown functions as an integrated, location-based digital game. Players earn points, unlock rewards, and can earn enough to purchase a “virtual” location and charge others who land there.

Foursquare is more about connecting with your friends and letting them know where you are, and then for racking up points, prizes, and etc.

However, if you don’t have any friends, neither will be that much fun. Which is exactly why I don’t play. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jeff Louis

SXSW Text!! Group Text from Brightkite, Oh Yes

March 17th, 2010 |

Local Texans in Austin are either grumbling about the slew of youths and db’s about to infiltrate their fair city, or rubbing their palms together for the tourist payday as the 24th Annual Music & Media Conference, South By Southwest, gets going (or should I say, growing). With social media, networking, technology, branding power, and everything else expanding faster than child obesity, so does SXSW and the amount of attendees.

The Interactive and Film portion kicked off on March 12th with trade shows, conferences, discussion panels, celebrity interviews, and film screenings, industry parties, etc. The big balls officially drop on the 17th, as bands from far and wide will melodically mount and rotate the 80-plus stages in downtown Austin. It’s hard to imagine the scope of planning that goes into the non-stop schedule, and if you think you have your itinerary all mapped out, think again. It’s going to get messy once the texts start pouring in – “Go see this show”, “Come to such-and-such film” – and your days become 90% planning, totally souring what should be a liberating mood.

So, we can all count our blessings for phones with email and the “what-the-f*ck did we do before” invention of text…but, like the dearly departed Corey Haim, everything has its limits. For example, if you’re at SXSW, you might text a group of friends, and then you get a text back, you respond, you get one from someone else and you fill them in on what you already heard back, and thus begins the chaotic cycle of simply trying to meet up with your goddamned friends. Sucks to be popular, don’t it?!?

Well, for you high-in-social-demand types, scratch the above time-consuming malarkey. With the new Brightkite Group Text, you can hit all your loyal buddies at once and start a big old text-versation – including pics.  You can use it from your computer, iPhone, iPhone touch, even if you’re not a member of Brightkite. With it, you can still text back from your phone and it will go to everyone on the list in the Group Text. It’s like the “Reply All” of texting. But the awesome thread is still saved with Brightkite, if – unthinkable as it seems – you can’t remember last night.

But for those of you looking to downsize your phone bill, you can cancel that bastard and use Brightkite’s Group Text for all your texting needs. Then meet up with your friends and borrow their phone!  Bite me, Verizon – can you hear me now, bitch?

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Rocky Mills

“The Bright Light Behind Brightkite” or “Where the F*ck is Brady Becker?”

February 11th, 2010 |

Back in 2007, MySpace was still formidable competition for Facebook, and Friendster was going the way of the pager (“pager,” i.e. a small electronic device assigned to a telephone number which alerted device-holder that a person was attempting contact; holder could then respond using one of those pay-phoney-thing-a-ma-jigs). Also in 2007, Twitter was but a fleeting twinkle on the net, and Brady Becker was just some hipster nerd in Denver, quietly concocting a little thing called Brightkite. Once unleashed, however, Brightkite took flight.

Unlike the standard-issue social networks, Brightkite doesn’t cater to the generic hogwash to which others  are prone. Closer to the up-and-coming Foursquare and the now-defunct Google acquisition Dodgeball, it’s a free, location-based networking site that’s also comparably sparse, user-friendly, and a superbly designed must-have communication tool.

Brightkite’s site is like a slap in the face for all of us networking zombies. Our eyes have literally adjusted to finding relevant areas on browsers. Brightkite’s homepage is so amazingly NOT complex, it literally makes you feel like the page must still be loading. (Coincidentally, as I write this, I am searching for “home” on Facebook’s horrifically redesigned page. Facebook is sure as shit joining its predecessors; it’s only a matter of time before it becomes as tainted and overrun with crappy bands as MySpace). Brightkite’s site is simple, it’s clean, and with the absence of seizure-inducing advertisements, it’s totally inviting.

You “check in” when you land at the corner bistro/dive bar/after-party, and it automatically posts your location to your Facebook, Twitter, or Flickr account. Take a picture of the obese hippie wearing butterfly wings at Whole Foods in Union Square, then post it on Brightkite so we can all enjoy the image of a fairy guzzling a Kombucha!

Below is my compelling and hard-hitting interview with Brightkite founder, Brady Becker.

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Rocky Mills