Friday, April 29, 2011

Color is the next Twitter? Try Liveshare instead

If you haven't heard of color yet then you should consider yourself someone who is clearly insulated away from the hype machine. In this case you should consider that as a good thing.

What is Color?

Color is meant to be a revolutionary way of sharing an experience or an event through social photography. The idea behind the revolution is interesting. Given a certain area you will be able to see all photos being taken around you by people using that application at that location. Put simply if person A and person B were watching the royal wedding from two sides and were snapping pics using this app, then they would be able to share each others' experiences. Person A would be able to see rowan atkinson while person B may see completely different dignitaries. So person A gets to see what person B sees and vice versa.

There's also several other features where the most interesting of them is the ability to see how closely you interact with certain people. The team behind color calls this concept 'elastic friendships' where as a friendship becomes less and less frequent the more frequent ones begin to surface.

Due to the nature of this application there's been no way for me to test it but I assume that they mean this. Take three people. A, B and C, who are at the royal wedding and using color. They each share their individual experiences thus adding some value to the overall experience. At a concert, person B and person A happen to be there at the same time. There are also persons D through K. (7 others who are also using color). At this event however you will probably notice person Bs photography being given more prominence as the thumbnails will appear more colorful while the remaining photos may be less saturated in comparison. As far as friendships go, you will continue to get updates from those who have been frequently interacting with you. As time goes by though, either because they have been inactive OR because you don't interact with them they may drop off your elastic friendship line. Again this is only from what I've gathered from their videos and interviews.
As far as technology goes this is indeed a massive amount of innovation and obviously the brains behind this have stretched theirs a lot to get this working. But does that make it the next Twitter?

How do you be the next Twitter?

By next Twitter the author means the next big thing that no one knew what purpose it served at the beginning but grew immensely all the same.

To examine this claim you have to understand what truly helped Twitter expand. It was the openness of data and how quickly you could suddenly find yourself smothered in a vast amount of information and conversations going on around you. Twitter recognised this and even pivoted the way they start a new users experience. No longer is it find friends straight off. Instead you tell Twitter what you are interested in and Twitter recommends popular names centered around those interests for you to follow thus creating instant value. Twitter is now about following your interests thus drawing a distinct line between the experience of Twitter and that of following your friends updates on your fb news feeds.

Color doesn't have what it takes

Color doesn't have that experience. Not yet. And it's doubtful whether they can create that experience given their current product. To create that sort of experience you would have to have some sort of data available immediately to the user on the first use. But due to it's inherent 'crowd sourced' experience this isn't possible. In fact the app goes as far as to say do not use alone. So let's take two people who follow that order. Chances are if it's you and your friend you would download it while relaxing together rather than while at a party. Your friend and you may walk to two different corners of say, the house, take photos and look at it. And think... so what?

In that aspect color happens to be very similar to Twitter. That's where the similarity ends. Why? Because it's just you and your friend who are engaged in that experience. Take the example of the royal wedding. Outside of the main ceremony the whole world could connect through Twitter, livestream, YouTube and of course.. liveshare by cooliris.

With color it's just people within that event who are sharing that experience. You can see where this is heading.

But what is Liveshare?

Liveshare is a photo sharing app that makes sharing both public and private. Where private is described as contextual by the makers of it. The concept behind the private or contextual experience of liveshare is that you share photos quickly and easily with a group of people you want to from your existing Facebook friends list. As told by the founders, if you happen to be at a wild party you could setup a private album, add only friends you want to share it with and start snapping. Your friends can snap and ADD to that experience too. One of things that makes this unique is the ease in which you can add friends to the stream.

On a side note Facebook makes this contextual sharing quite difficult, tedious and very unobvious. Their mobile app has no options of setting privacy and therefore it fails at this task.

But what about the engagement at an instant level that made Twitter what it is today? That's the cool part. Today for example, if I had downloaded liveshare for the first time I would have been able to see public streams as soon as I logged in. Within public streams I'd see the "say hello" stream where everyone is free to add their first photos. More importantly. I'd see the trending stream of the royal wedding. There's immediate potential for the user to become hooked instantly. No longer does one have to search through a myriad of photos online to compile a decent collage. It's there in a beautiful stream which anyone can both WATCH and ADD TO. This has more ingredients to become the next Twitter. A lot more of the essential ingredients. And there's so much room for growth here on the existing concept.

The usefulness of liveshare doesn't stop there. For a large rock concert, the organisers could easily create a public liveshare stream. Tell users beforehand to get on it at the concert. Before the concert they could keep attendees happy with tantalizing photos of backstage activity. And then people in the concert can share their experiences very much the same way people are supposed to do in color. And they don't even have to be at the concert to see it.

Within the royal wedding stream you can see users who have sent their well wishes via pictures of them holding cards with writing on it. That is truly adding value to an experience. That is adding layers to an experience. Color does non of that and therefore I don't see it becoming a major deal the way it is right now. Even they have admitted that certain concepts need to be changed and to hear that from a team that just launched doesn't give much confidence either.

Both have ways to go

Liveshare is at the same time by no means complete. There are a plethora of missing functions and use cases that ought to be applied. This isn't the post that I would discuss it in but whatever I feel is lacking in Liveshare would not require any change in it's concept unlike Color. 

What do you think? I'm open to ideas on how Color could be used to create a really engaging experience as opposed to Liveshare.

Inspired by:
Y Combinator Newest! (ycombinatornews):
Why Color May Be The Next Twitter
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