Sunday, March 4, 2012

SXSW - Breakthru App?

Next week, South by Southwest (SXSW) takes over Austin, Texas.  Best known as a music festival, SXSW has become an ever-growing tech scene. 

While there are a lot of tech panels, speakers and parties, there is also a chance for startups to break out.  In 2007 -Twitter, 2009 -Foursquare and 2011- a number of group messaging apps such as

There is a lot of buzz this year around what I call “people discovery apps”. 

As discussed on CNN – here are my thoughts on Highlight – the app gaining the most traction and likely breakout star of SXSW.

Location sharing is nothing new.  Everyone knows you can “check-in” and discover others around you on Foursquare Facebook places.  However, some apps are taking this one step further. 

One app gaining a lot of traction is Highlight.  Highlight is activated with your Facebook profile and notifies you when anyone is near you that also have the app installed. 

In short: you see their profile photo, mutual friends and interests.  You can also see a history of the times you have previously crossed paths.

For example, I got a notification yesterday that CNN Money Tech Reporter Laurie Segall was a block away from me.  The app indicated we had 1 mutual thing in common (CNN) and 7 mutual friends.  I messaged her and was like, “Hey there!  We need to grab coffee sometime!”  I never had a chance to meet Laurie, but we got to connect. I met someone totally cool through an app!

Privacy Concerns?
What was a bit creepy to me was the amount of data it has access to on your Facebook page – however, they do not sell that to third parties. 

In emails back and forth with founder Paul Davison he noted “We care deeply about privacy and talk to users about it all the time in order to make sure we are earning their trust and giving them the controls they want.”

If you’re concerned, don’t sign up for it.  It’s entirely opt in.

Also, there are options to pause the app (and not leave it running in the background all the time).  Also, you can manage who can see your visibility. You can choose ‘everyone’ or just ‘friends of friends’.

You can‘t track someone’s location – once they are out of your vicinity you cannot see their location.

Success in comparable apps?
Proximity apps for meeting people have already proved themselves successful. 

Skout, which is the largest of the location-based dating apps, claims 10 million subscribers, adding nearly 1 million users a month.  It is considered more of a “flirting app”.  Interestingly ,the average age of the user is 25 / 26 in big cities.   I spoke with Christian Wikland, Founder and CEO of Skout, and he noted that with this service, privacy is very important.  Like Highlight, Skout never reveals exactly where someone is- just the vicinity.  It’s on the user to strike up a conversation through chat.  Notably, 300 million messages were sent on the network last month.  Christian also noted Skout team is big on community management. “If there are inappropriate photos or messages being sent, they will band the device.”  Skout monetizes by selling virtual goods and other services like allowing you to promote yourself.  Like Highlight, they never sell your data to third parties.

I will say -this type of app does come with a hook up stigma that can deter users.

Have to wonder if these are a fad or if there is potential longevity….

1 comment:


Copyright © 2012 Katie Linendoll