13 October 2012

The Verge: “The bubble that wasn’t: what happened to ‘people discovery’ apps?”

highlight in the Facebook App Center
There are all these reasons why learning about the people around us is high-friction, so we don't do it and keep our headphones in and stare awkwardly at our phones, Highlight founder Paul Davison told The Verge. I'm completely convinced that in 10 years, this will just exist. You'll walk into a room and you'll know everyone's name and where they work, and you'll have something surface the most interesting things you have in common with people around you. There's no doubt that there's some cool technology behind Highlight, but it turns out that people just don't have time to see which neighbors are also into Homeland. Ellis Hamburger

I was casually browsing the App Center a couple of days back when I stumbled upon Highlight and I was reminded of this article. Only 13.000 total users!? Even if all were in the same city at the same time the chance of meeting someone using Highlight would be pretty slim. That’s definitely a type of app where you need critical mass to succeed and prove the usefulness of the concept; but unfortunately, none of them seems to be nearing that elusive tipping point. Maybe the world isn’t ready for ‘people discovery’ and it will boom in a couple of years. Personally I think this approach is failing because it takes the fun and excitement out of meeting new people: why would I want to talk to a complete stranger if I already know what he will answer? There’s no surprise anymore, no risk and hence little reward.

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