21 June 2016

Variety: “Public: a Group Chat with an audience from the Founder of Boxee”

I believe messaging could be a third medium for broadcasting conversations, Ronen told Variety during an interview this week. It’s been around for decades on audio (radio and now podcasts) and video (TV and now YouTube). I believe messaging could be a third platform for conversations.

Public, which launched with an iPhone app and website Friday, can best be described as group chats with an audience. A few active participants chat with each other on a topic, be it “Game of Thrones,” a sports team or “Black Arts & Literature.” All these discussions happen in public, allowing anyone to follow them in real-time or read up on them later. And chats can be embedded on other websites as well as shared via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Janko Roettgers

Wow, another Twitter-wanna-be app in the course of two months! Presented along more-or-less the same terms no less, as you can read below. Either people are expecting Twitter to fail really hard and want to take its place (but if Twitter fails, doesn’t that also mean it was a bad idea in the first place?) or are trying to grab a piece of its success (in which case they’re going to face an uphill struggle, especially since both apps are iPhone only).

Public iPhone appTalkshow iPhone app
Public vs. Talkshow

Conversations are how we entertain each other and advance ideas, and messaging is how most of us have conversations today. We believe a fast, simple and uncluttered conversation between friends can be entertaining and enlightening for more than just the people talking. So, Talkshow is about turning messaging into media. That’s why we call it “texting in public.”

Michael Sippey

To me, this whole concept of messaging in public seems a little forced to work. Sure, some celebrities may find a new channel to connect with fans, but it’s not like there’s a shortage of social networks to keep people interested these days. The real problem is that the idea goes against the trend to more private sharing, either through SnapChat or messaging apps, that has impacted Facebook sharing and is probably hurting Twitter’s growth as well. Is there any benefit for regular users to be “texting in public”? If you can’t answer that conclusively then your pitch is dead.

Update: four months later: Talkshow announces shut down in December. One down, one to go.

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